How putting a fern on your food can be good for business

01 Dec 2019
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Whittaker’s share some not-so secret-reasons for their success 
In a world full of fakes and skimmers and counterfeits, trust and authenticity have never been more prized. So even if you have one of the most loved and trusted brands in New Zealand, when you venture out into other export markets, you’re still glad to have some official endorsement backing you. 
That’s why Whittaker’s is putting the FernMark on their chocolate as they go to market across Asia. Brand manager Caitlin Attenburrow says the FernMark - our national symbol for country-of-origin assurance - vouches for them. “When you start moving into markets where there’s little brand awareness it's important to have things like the FernMark as a signifier of quality. It’s an endorsement from the New Zealand Government to say yes this is legitimate and you can trust it. It says ‘New Zealand’ and that’s what resonates with people. It's a mark we're very proud to bear.”  
Trust, she says, is very important to consumers in Asia. “If they’re able to go and check out the license on the FernMark website and see our company page, that's quite powerful for them. New Zealand has a reputation for high quality, food standards and health and safety. So having the official stamp and being able to use that logo on our packaging and in our communications is really strong for us.” 
Whittaker’s promise in their marketing is not only trust but also quality. “When we export we want to be something a little bit different, a little bit special. We’re trading on the fact that New Zealand is known for high-quality ingredients, and that we are a bean-to-bar company making all our chocolate at the one site in Porirua in New Zealand. We process right from the raw bean through to the finished bar of chocolate. That means consistency of the product you can rely on, and it makes us different to a lot of other chocolate players.” 
Being a New Zealand food business also means having plenty of collegial experience of draw on. “Across the industry, a lot of us know each other” adds Attenburrow. “We've worked together on products so we can be quite collaborative. For example, we might ring up Pic’s and say ‘hey how's your China journey going, tell us about it, what's working and what isn't, what can we share, what can we learn from each other? And the same with friends at Lewis Road who are also part of the FernMark Licence Programme. That's really useful because you then don't have to make the same mistakes over and over.”  
“It’s a really nice part of the New Zealand food industry that we all try to help each other out when we can - where you can just ring up and say ‘hey we're from Whittaker’s. We were wondering if we could talk to somebody about China. And they’re really open.”