A purpose-built factory in Taupō turning mānuka honey produced at Onetai Station in Awakino and high-quality milk from the Central North Island into a delectable spread has grabbed the attention of a multinational company.
The Onetai factory started producing its original milk and honey spread – which can also be used as a dessert topping or turned into a delicious hot drink – in 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. As for so many businesses, the past couple of years have been challenging. However, the company and its small, passionate team have proved resilient and adaptable. Not only have they kept the business running despite lockdowns and staff shortages, they have developed new products and landed a contract to supply the Australian and New Zealand outlets of international wholesaling giant, Costco.
“The deal with Costco is a huge milestone for Onetai,” says Director, Rafa Grozovsky. “We have supportive suppliers in New Zealand, especially locally, but our contract with Costco gives us an amazing opportunity to bring our product to a much wider market.” There are currently 13 Costco stores in Australia and New Zealand’s first Costco is due to open at the end of August. Rafa hopes that this contract may ultimately lead to opportunities to supply Costco in other countries where there are hundreds of stores.
“Our factory can produce small batches, or we can produce up to 500 kilograms per shift. The factory is designed so that we can scale up production to meet a much higher demand if we need to, so we are ready for any opportunity.”
Plant Manager, Manuel Benamo, agrees. Manuel has moved to Taupō from Argentina to help manage and grow production capacity and he looks forward to bringing more local talent into the company. “We are a small team, so everyone has an important role to play and can get involved in different aspects of the business,” says Manuel. “The main thing is to have a passion for the product, which is easy once you have tasted it!”
Amplify worked with Onetai while the business was first being established to help with accessing information and expert advice, including immigration support. The Onetai team have also attended Amplify events to help build their local networks and profile and to learn from other Taupō businesses.
“Taupō is a wonderful place to be,” says Rafa. “Having our factory based here, close to where we source our key ingredients, is an important part of our story. We are proud that the labels on our products say ‘Made in Taupō’ and we look forward to growing our connection with the local community and our New Zealand customers. It’s exciting to have our products on the shelves at a range of supermarkets, including New World and Farro Fresh, as well as available on our website, onetai.nz.”
Reaching more Kiwi customers is what has inspired Onetai to develop several new products. “While international consumers love New Zealand manuka honey products, we also wanted to create products that would really appeal to Kiwis.” As well as its original milk and honey spread, Onetai now makes its delicious spreads in the original Argentinian milk caramel style, ‘dulce de leche’, as well as choc-orange, peanut butter and banoffee flavours.