By Samantha Lees
“Cooking is as simple and as good as the ingredients are,” said chef and entrepreneur Simon Gault. Yet in this age when most of our food comes from mass agriculture and factory farming. We sometimes have to put in extra effort to find ingredients that are truly good – sustainable, responsible, trustworthy. Fortunately, companies like Eat The Kiwi are doing that footwork for us. I spoke to Tim Bruges, Sales Director of Eat The Kiwi about ethical eggs, sustainable salmon and telling those stories behind the suppliers.
“We work with who we think is unique, different and has a good story behind it”.
It is no secret that New Zealand’s pristine natural environment, fertile soils, clean air and water enables it to grow some of the best ingredients in the world. The small island country has a lot to offer in terms of sustainable, ethically farmed products.
Eat The Kiwi is a wholesale food supplier-distributor and online retail grocer. They connect the smaller but more premium producers in New Zealand to people who don’t just love to eat and cook with outstanding ingredients, but who also care about where their food comes from, and the stories behind it. From foragers of edible herbs and flowers to farmers of sustainable king salmon, Eat The Kiwi sources over 300 carefully chosen, high quality ingredients from around New Zealand. They also make it their mission to tell the story of those who grow and produce with passion, creating a deeper connection between the consumer, the product and its source.
“We stick to our guns and just do it the ethical way.”
Eat The Kiwi aims to link New Zealand products that meet their stringent quality standards to conscious buyers and chefs in Hong Kong to help make it easier to buy responsibly. “There is now plenty of focus (in Hong Kong) on how animals are raised, what they eat and what chemicals are used in the process.”
Eat The Kiwi is the biggest importer of organic eggs for the food service market in Hong Kong. They work with egg producers such as FRENZ to highlight the importance of giving chickens not just an organic diet, but a genuine free-range environment as well. “We get asked a million questions a day (by customers) about what’s a suitable thing to order, what’s the difference between cage-free eggs and organic eggs etc. We know all this very well as we talk to the producers directly and they give us all this information to pass on.”
Photo: Big Glory Bay
Some of the ingredients they source can’t be found anywhere else in the world. One example is the Te Mana lamb. Through a unique combination of careful breed selection, rearing location and conditions, farming practices and specific grazing techniques, the result is meat with a unique fat and flavour profile, high in omega-3 and a Wagyu-beef-style marbling that’s never been seen in lamb before. Another is seafood from Big Glory Bay, where cold currents of the bay create the optimum conditions to farm King Salmon that have a rich, smooth flavour, with a tender melt-in-the-mouth texture. On top of a deep commitment to sustainability, the farm also partnered up with Oritain, the world leaders in scientifically verifying the origin of foods, to assure that their products can always be traced back to Big Glory Bay, protecting customers from food fraud.
Photo: Big Glory Bay
Keepin’ It Cool With Wool
Eat The Kiwi also consider sustainability in their packaging. Their cardboard boxes for home deliveries in Hong Kong are lined with Wool Cool – an insulating lining which is biodegradable, compostable and sealed in recyclable food-grade HDPE, while keeping contents suitably cool for delivery. This means they can avoid the use of refrigerated trucks, lowering their carbon footprint. Fun fact: Wool Cool is, of course, made from New Zealand wool.
What’s In The Pipeline?
Currently, responsibly sourced food is often sold at a premium, due to the intensive, hands-on nature of its production. “We are working with producers to make earth-friendly food more approachable for restaurants across the board. We believe affordable, responsibly sourced food is reachable.” A part of this ambition is to bring a free range liquid egg to market for use in food production facilities.
Photo: New Zealand Story
In response to growing demand for plant-based food, Eat The Kiwi will also be delivering a meat-free protein range aiming to launch in Q3 this year. They’re exploring a plant-based protein that can be formed as strips for things like stir fry, pizza, meatballs which has been achieving success in the QSR sector.
Extending its strong spirit of collaboration to the consumer side, Eat The Kiwi are working with chefs in Hong Kong to develop recipe kits for the online grocery store as a way to support their food service customers by providing them with a platform to advertise their restaurants and chefs to their home delivery customers.
Photo: New Zealand Story
By partnering with Food Made Good, Eat The Kiwi aims to raise awareness to restaurants and consumers that ethically sourced food is affordable, more approachable and healthier than most realise. They also endeavor to highlight the fact that all this wonderful food comes with a unique story, and the reality that responsible and sustainable farming practices are crucial to all of our futures. “It is unusual to have a distributor in Asia that pays attention to that kind of thing, so we’ve stood out amongst competitors.”
For more information about Eat The Kiwi, visit https://store.eatthekiwi.com/
Photo: Eat The Kiwi