28 Jan 2014

Yellow Brick Road leads home

7:12 am on 28 January 2014

Exporting is a major step after cracking the domestic market for most companies but it was the other way around for the founder of Yellow Brick Road, a fish supplier.

Rachel Taulelei of Wellington started exporting sustainable seafood to the United States after a stint as a trade commissioner in Los Angeles. Then she discovered the New Zealand market.

"While I was away, I spent a lot of time looking at tourism as well, and one of the reasons that tourists come to New Zealand is to experience our food and wine," Ms Taulelei said.

"I think that if we're not the best versions of ourselves right here in New Zealand, then all of that messaging falls flat.

"So if we do, in fact, send all of the most amazing produce that we have offshore and not allow for some of it to be retained her in New Zealand, then we run that risk."

Ms Taulelei's response to this was to stop exporting, instead keeping all the product in New Zealand for domestic chefs who were becoming increasingly interested in where food came from and in sustainability.

Seafood was a diminishing resource so there was a need to play in the values base rather than the volumes base, and that was where Yellow Brick Road lived, Ms Taulelei said.

She was not ruling out a return to export but believed it took time to build a robust business, especially in a small to medium one.

"I think that I would like Yellow Brick Road to continue being a really smart company, smart in the way that we work, I like the idea that we are a leader in the sustainable seafood discussion," she said.

"I think we could quite frankly double the number of restaurants that we're working with, and I do see that on the cards in the next couple of years."

Ms Taulelei also believed there were opportunities in countries such as Australia and the Middle East.