Boost for gourmet yoghurt

01:10, Nov 24 2010

A couple of Ngatea entrepreneurs have received a $300,000 boost for their gourmet yoghurt business and hope to stock the shelves of Harrods, London, by Christmas.

Hamish Pye and Shaun Jacka and their company Piako Gourmet Yoghurt were one of three winners in the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

The challenge offered $1 million in funding for entrepreneurs and the company was one of three winners.

Mr Jacka has recently returned from the United Kingdom where the business is setting up a manufacturing base in Norwich.

"This is a huge boost for us.

"Being a growing business, cashflow isn't always the easiest.

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"This means we can get ahead and achieve what we want in the UK," Mr Jacka said.

He said construction of the factory was under way and it was still hoped they would be manufacturing yoghurt in time for the Christmas market in the UK.

Most recently Piako have been working with Fonterra on a national distribution deal in which Fonterra would distribute their yoghurt through supermarkets around New Zealand.

"We're still working through the details with Fonterra. We need to get up to their standards for it all to go ahead.

"They're helping us do that and hopefully we will be at that standard in about a month."

Piako was born after Mr Jacka discovered gourmet yoghurt in Brisbane and learned New Zealand had no similar offering.

He was living in Brisbane, working in freight forwarding and sales.

Mr Pye had been toying with the idea of making cheese from milk produced on the family farm at Ngatea and worked at New Zealand Post.

Apart from growing up on farms, neither had food-based backgrounds. Mr Jacka presented the concept of a gourmet yoghurt to Mr Pye and they imported 350 kilograms of gourmet yoghurt from the Queensland Yoghurt Company and took it to the Takapuna market.

"The product flew off the stand so we thought let's jump in and do this," Mr Pye said.

The Queensland Yoghurt Company, based in Noosa, helped with the equipment required to make the thick, Greek-style yoghurt and a basis for a recipe.

The pair found a vacant 604 square-metre factory in Auckland and started scouring Trade Me and scrap metal yards for equipment.

Their production line is now well established but Mr Pye said they would have to scale up the operation to satisfy their Fonterra deal.

"We were a bit of a mess four months ago and they have come in and shown us what we need to do," Mr Jacka said.

www.piakoyoghurt.co.nz

Waikato Times