30 Apr 2021

Just Kai – The Cook Islands

From Country Life, 9:14 pm on 30 April 2021
Tim Vaikai, (R) The Fresh Fish Company

Tim Vaikai, (R) The Fresh Fish Company Photo: supplied

A local marketing campaign has turned around the fortunes of a Cook Islands fish distribution company.

The Fresh Fish Company, based in Rarotonga, used to supplied hotels and restaurants but when Covid restrictions stopped international travel, sales dropped by 95 percent.

The company's owner, Tim Vaikai says that prompted a rapid rethink of how to diversify the business. Social media is now being used to market fish to locals.

He has started delivering fish around Rarotonga, free of charge, three days a week.

After months of having no work, fishers have returned to the waters and sales have picked up to almost reach pre-Covid levels.

Tim says the Government's 'Go Local'  initiative has helped.

"We were lucky that the people already had this idea that if they support small local businesses, particularly in agriculture or fishing, then that made them a good person, and they really supported us."

Nine fishers catch and supply fish to The Fresh Fish Company and four people are employed to process it.

Tim says the cessation of international travel took him by surprise.

"We didn't think it (Covid) would affect us in a small island in the middle of the Pacific. We thought, you know, we could always have New Zealand tourists come along.

"But when the borders suddenly closed...we had a bunch of fish on hand and we just had to start eating it all ourselves."

Cook Island waters

Cook Island waters Photo: Joachim Tau