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Prenzel poised for India deal

Vincon has been certified as halal

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 22/08/2012
Hayden Johnstone
SCOTT HAMMOND
Halal certified: Prenzel Distilling Company distiller Hayden Johnstone with some of the award-winning Vincon product it sees a ready market for in India

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The possibility of a trade agreement with India brings the prospect of a huge new market for Blenheim beverage and ingredient manufacturer Prenzel.

Prenzel Distilling Company founder Hugh Steadman said the company had distributors "lined up and raring to go" in India for its Vincon products and the proposed New Zealand-India Free Trade Agreement, being negotiated by the Government, would be a huge opportunity.

Each litre of Vincon contains the concentrated flavour equivalent of four litres of table wine. Though it is formulated using the same fruit acids and other organic chemicals found after a reduction of table wine, it contains no alcohol. Also, none of the components used have been derived from any process involving fermentation or contact with alcohol.

As a result, Vincon has been certified as halal.

“At the moment importing Vincon into the Indian market faces an insurmountable tariff barrier of over 150 per cent," Mr Steadman said.

"That will disappear once the free-trade agreement is in place and will enable this unique Marlborough product to be sold into India's major hotel chains and other large-scale caterers.

"We already have distributors lined up and raring to go. This represents a huge opportunity."

Vincon was a unique product, Mr Steadman said.

"There is no other product like it in the world. It was the runner-up in the 1998 Sial Paris awards, for the most innovative grocery product in the world."

However, its unique qualities also made it hard to sell, because there was nothing like it and it didn't fit into any category. "Till you use it, it's hard to describe."

Major international hotels and airline catering services with a mixture of Muslim and customers from other religions can use Vincon to produce European-style sauces without the risk of offending customers.

Nor do their chefs have to spend time and effort reducing table wine.

As for flavour qualities, Vincon co-developer Peter Thornley used Vincon Red to win a gold medal for best hot meal while competing against the Pacific's top chefs at the 1998 Salon Culinaire in Singapore.

Vincon has been exported to Singapore since then, where a major airline catering supplier used it in its service to airlines including Singapore Airlines. Sales to Singapore had increased to about $100,000 a year, Mr Steadman said.

The next export market for Vincon would be India, he said.

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A spokeswoman for Trade Minister Tim Groser said there was no date for the completion of negotiations for the agreement, but they were aiming for early next year.

- The Marlborough Express

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