Adding Value at St Andrews Limes
From selling fresh limes at the farmers market, a couple added value by additional processing
Ant and Allison Williams set up St Andrews Limes in 2002. After six weeks of selling fresh limes at the Farmers Market in Hastings, a person at the market suggested that the only way they would make money was if they added value to their product, so they started making lime and date chutney and lime and nectarine chutney which they sold for the next few months. After four months they had run out of nectarines, so they changed to peach chutney.
They then added lime cordial, lime curd and lime marmalade to their range of products. They also made a garlic-vinaigrette dressing, based on Ant’s mother’s recipe, and swapped the onion juice for lime juice.
Since April 2003, Ant has worked full time in the business, while Alison is a secondary school teacher at Taradale High School and works at the Farmers Markets on the weekends.
They employ two full time and two part time staff to work in the business.
The juice is produced in a commercial processing factory. Ant buys in more than 100 tonnes of limes for the juicing but they use their own limes for the products with the St Andrews Limes brand.
Altogether they have 22 products, including juice, kaffir lime leaves, lime, preserved lemons, chutney, lime passionfruit curd, pesto, and lime and mustard seed dressing. All their products are free of artificial preservatives, and all but one product is gluten free.
There is a small but growing export business to Australia and Malaysia, and Ant is working on supplying customers in Switzerland and Germany at the moment.
They also supply New World and Pak’n’Save supermarkets throughout New Zealand, as well as top end delis, cafes and restaurants.
Ant is working hard to expand the business, and has just done a feasibility study on spray-dried lemon powder. “It’s very encouraging and has a lot of potential. My objective is to increase my share of the market through supermarkets and to export more.”
Ant says the Farmers Market has been invaluable to their business. They have used the market as a way to taste test products before taking them to a more commercial scale. It’s been a very cost effective way to do product development, and before they get to the labelling stage, they always test new products at the market. “Of the products we have taken through to the labelling stage, we have only had one failure.”
Commitment and passion are essential ingredients for any small business Ant says. “You have to have goal in sight of what you want to achieve and how to achieve it.”