2021 has undeniably marked a breakthrough year for Fix & Fogg’s success as a New Zealand business in the international export market, particularly against the obstacles posed by COVID-19. Their iconic nut butters have taken the world by storm, with the United States, Australia and Singapore becoming increasingly popular markets. Under the leadership of Roman and Andrea Jewell, the Wellington-based business has become the first New Zealand owned food manufacturer to be awarded a B Corp certification. Simultaneously, Fix & Fogg have successfully expanded their production and distribution facilities into the highly competitive US market.
In recognition of their success, Fix & Fogg received this year’s ExportNZ Wellington / Central / Hawke’s Bay Best Emerging Export Award. Additionally, Fix & Fogg won the Southeast Asia CAPE Best Emerging Business Award as the judges were impressed by their rapid expansion into new markets. With such an impressive resume, it’s no wonder Fix & Fogg secured a finalist position in the Best Emerging Business category in the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021.
From left to right, Roman Jewell (CEO), Thom Brooks (COO), Sarah Sherriff (Export & Finance Manager), Shanae Ruffell (Marketing Manager).
Fix & Fogg’s Head of Export & Finance, Sarah Sherriff, joined us for an interview to give our members insight into how Fix & Fogg have achieved their export success this year. Regarding their achievements, Sherriff explains the team at Fix & Fogg are “delighted to receive recognition and found the awards inspiring to hear stories from other businesses.” Over seven years, the business transformed from selling at local farmers markets to becoming a multinational business competing against the corporate giants of the wholefoods industry. Sherriff recognises that Fix & Fogg achieved this by adapting to each market and utilising each market’s advantages. For example, Singapore’s traditional distributor routes and pre-existing portfolios with New Zealand brands simplified Fix & Fogg’s introduction to the Southeast Asia export market. Conversely, the difficulties brought from the United States’ quotas and tariffs led to Fix & Fogg test-piloting their product on Amazon to gauge interest. After 60,000 jars sold, Fix & Fogg set up a subsidiary and began manufacturing in the USA to curb quota and tariff costs. This has subsequently given the nut butter business the capacity to approach the intensely competitive Australian market.
But how has COVID-19 affected their success across the world? As with most New Zealand export businesses, COVID-19 significantly challenged Fix & Fogg’s supply chain with high freight rates and overdue container shipments. Additionally, their inability to travel forced the brand to digitally adapt their selling point from the traditional face-to-face taste testing commonly used in the food industry. Fix & Fogg used various e-commerce platforms to directly reach their broad target market and their in-market production in the USA to meet demand. Sherriff says that their overseas nut butter production was “immensely helpful” with the current freight challenges.
Ultimately, Fix & Fogg have emerged stronger and more versatile out of COVID-19 than ever before. When asked what advice they would give to their fellow New Zealand exporters during this challenging time, Sherriff recommended that having faith that a Kiwi product can conquer international competitors is essential. No wonder they have seen so much international success out of 2021!