Sending our Best Across the Pacific with GHE | The Cultivator Autumn 2020

Sending our Best Across the Pacific with GHE

Beginning in 1994 with twenty-foot containers of Manildra Group flour destined for the island of Kiribati, our first consignment to the South Pacific was shipped by Geoffrey Hughes Exports (GHE).

In the decades since, the two Australian family-owned companies have forged a longstanding partnership as trusted household names across the region, supplying premium quality staple foods in a dozen South Pacific nations.

“Apart from some of the larger islands such as Papua New Guinea and Fiji, most islands need to import everything they consume,” said GHE Sales Director Simon Pitkin.

“Our customers are the importers for manufacturing, distribution, wholesaling, retail supermarkets, mining and hospitality in Kiribati as well as many other Pacific Island nations. That includes Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, in the Marshall Islands, Majuro and Ebeye, Pohnpei and Chuuk. We are also exclusive agents to Kosrae and Yap in Micronesia, Palau, Saipan and Guam.”

Mr Pitkin’s team of top sales managers travel regularly to these markets, keeping in close touch with our mutual clients and providing feedback to Manildra Group after each trip.

The GHE team are occasionally accompanied by Manildra Group Account Manager Phil Sergi to provide product advice and after-sales support — a service unique to the Manildra and GHE partnership that “our clients value immensely”, said Mr Pitkin.

He said freshness and consistency were the most important qualities customers looked for in our products – “and ensuring a quality product arrives at the customer’s warehouse shipment after shipment is paramount”.

“Being a fully Australian-owned business selling predominantly Australian-grown and made products such as Manildra Group’s flour, sugar, bakery products and oils, is something we are very proud of,” Mr Pitkin said.

“And it wouldn’t be fair not to mention the great support teams that both Manildra and GHE have in documentation, shipping, logistics, and sales who work quietly, efficiently and seamlessly – a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes.

“To pack and ship a container of flour products over 3000km is not as easy as it may sound – we have learnt the pros and cons in partnership with Manildra over the years and I am happy to say we receive next-to-no complaints these days.”

Also very important to Pacific Islands customers is the consistent quality of Manildra Group’s ingredients, said Mr Pitkin, because “they want to make a better product than the status quo”.

Manildra Group Director of Sales Murray Newman said the bakery training and technical back-up had enabled GHE’s Pacific Islands sales team to become “very confident in promoting most products” on Manildra Group’s bakery product guide – including baker’s flour, strong baker’s flour, protein-enriched flour, almost our entire cake and bread premix range, and our oils, yeast, shortening, glucose, golden syrup and sugar, and retail flour and sugar.

GHE and Manildra have together been building flour markets in regions and islands where other Australian traders do not venture,” said Mr Newman.

“Our ingredients are used in the Pacific Islands mostly for bread and cake production – the outer islands use our flours for traditional types of cooking and baking, gravies, pancakes, batters and pudding, to name a few.

“Providing only quality products to long-term clients, GHE has developed strong relationships with our customers – who you can see they care about on our market visits. They frequently visit all markets, and trade with businesses large and small – from the roadside store and village bakery all the way to the wholesalers and large bakery plants servicing US military and school programs.”

Mr Newman said that while flour and bakery had become an integral area of GHE’s one-stop-shop trading formula in the Pacific Islands, “we see potential for growth in most of these markets – especially with value-added products such as premixes for cakes and grain breads”.

“Artisan is becoming popular for the more upmarket areas and hotels, and we are expecting growth with flour tonnage especially in Micronesia and the Marshall Islands in 2020”.

Mr Pitkin said flour products remained a constant staple in the “forever-changing” Pacific Islands. “As these countries develop, so too do their tastes – with consumption of higher quality products meaning future growth opportunities look encouraging,” he said.