How did the quakes affect Westgold’s deliveries?
It affected all of our north-bound logistics in the immediate few days after the earthquake. We had just completed our biggest-ever week of sales of Westgold butter, and needed to replenish stocks within the northern distribution centres quickly. Fortunately, Progressive Enterprises were really accommodating and were able to adjust to varying arrival days and pallet formats based on vehicles now needing to use the inland route. Plus, in conjunction with Hilton Haulage and the Salvation Army, we donated two thousand litres of UHT milk to the people of Kaikoura in the first few days after the quake.
How long has Westgold been exporting butter, and to what countries?
The Westgold brand was launched in 2004 by our parent company Westland Milk Products and since then has been exported to countries such as Australia, China and Singapore; even becoming one of the leading butter brands in Azerbaijan. Before this though, butter exports from the West Coast date all the way back to the 1890s.
What prompted the move from solely export to supplying Kiwi supermarkets?
Westgold unsalted butter won the Food for Chefs Category Champion award and gold medal at the Champions of Cheese show in March this year, and our salted butter brought home a bronze medal as well. We’ve been consistently told by our overseas customers how great our butter is, so we felt confident that Kiwi consumers would love it too.
Locally, we’ve positioned Westgold for the “everyday gourmet” shopper who wants to know they’re buying high quality, but also looks for value for money.
From a retail perspective we identified a significant gap in the butter market in New Zealand. Brands have been mostly competing on price and offering little category value at the lower end; or are super-premium and priced out of reach of most families. Westgold’s everyday premium positioning aims to offer top quality butter at an affordable price, and more value to the retailers too. To support it we’re investing $400,000 in an online, print and radio campaign highlighting Westgold’s simple goodness with our “cream, heart and soul” advertising creative.
Has the change got anything to do with the popularity of other premium butters like Lewis Road?
Westgold cows have a pasture-based diet year round, and our butter is made with our high quality cream using the traditional Fritz churning technique perfected over generations by our expert butter makers on the West Coast. Other premium brands certainly brought more consumer interest to the category, however the real influence has been the recent positive stories on the benefits of butter, combined with growing consumer interest in cooking from scratch at home and the preference towards natural, wholesome ingredients.
Is Westgold looking into supplying premium supermarkets like Farro and Nosh, and negotiating with Foodstuffs?
As well as selling in almost all of Progressive’s Countdown and Fresh Choice stores since mid-year, we’ve been building distribution with Foodstuffs South Island throughout 2016. Westgold has recently been accepted for ranging within Foodstuffs North Island, so we’ll be building up our North Island New World and PaknSave stores early in 2017. As for the gourmet food markets like Farro and Nosh, absolutely we’re working with them to see if opportunities for supply exist.
We believe our West Coast origins, and stories of the generations of Westgold farming families will appeal to these shoppers. Westgold has been available in Moore Wilsons in Wellington for a several weeks now, and it’s been flying off the shelves.