THE humble coconut is powering the massive growth of Gold Coast company Nature Pacific – and a small Fijian community is the richer for it.
Nature Pacific, which specialises in the development and distribution of certified organic Banaban Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, has teamed its operations with its primary-product suppliers from Rabi Island in Fiji to create a business that is poised to doubled revenue to $3.8 million this financial year.
The company, founded in a garage by husband-and-wife team Ken Sigrah and Stacey King (pictured) in 2004, has grown so fast that, until the beginning of this month, it was scattered across four small factories at Burleigh Heads.
Nature Pacific has since moved into new headquarters at Varsity Lakes where the company produces and distributes its Banaban coconut oil products to markets across the world.
The new facility, Banaban House, is described as a coconut lifestyle and training centre that links back to Nature Pacific’s roots in the minority Fijian community that once lived on Banaba Island.
The island, also known as Ocean Island, was a community destroyed in the early 1900s from 80 years of phosphate mining by Australian, New Zealand and UK governments, forcing its people to take refuge and relocate to Rabi Island.
In an ironic twist, Sigrah is a Banaba native and King is a descendant of the European phosphate miners.
The couple met on Rabi Island, married and are now pursuing the cause of local islanders through their new venture, and providing valuable jobs for the once impoverished community.
King says the Fijian Government has seized on the potential for the local economy being created by Nature Pacific.
It has invested in the community through the construction of a new jetty and is also looking to build a bio-fuel plant on the island.
Nature Pacific’s local coconut oil supplier is also planning to build a new $1 million virgin coconut oil processing plant to keep up with the company’s global demand.
The Gold Coast warehouse receives more 64,000 litres of organic coconut oil per month from Fiji which is then packaged and distributed to markets in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Germany.
King says the Rabi Island plant is being self-funded from profits generated from the coconut oil venture.
“That’s the sort of growth we are experiencing and that’s what is very exciting for us,” says King.
She says Nature Pacific’s new Varsity Lakes headquarters, featuring indoor coconut trees, gives Gold Coasters a direct link to what is happening on Rabi Island.
“We believe it’s a whole new way of doing business,” says King.
“The building brings a touch of the island to the Gold Coast. It’s all about coming out of the concrete jungle. It’s like an art gallery – a lot of culture is combined into this building.”
Nature Pacific has also set up an education foundation for Banaban children to help 135 local islander students complete their primary and secondary schooling.
The Fiji operation employs about 50 local staff, while Nature Pacific has boosted its Gold Coast staff numbers to 27.
King says Nature Pacific is poised for further growth with plans to enter the Canadian market in coming months, along with the recent entry into Germany.
The company produces a range of products utilising virgin coconut oil, which has been proven to have a broad range of health benefits, particularly for those with diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Nature Pacific range comprises food and cooking products as well as health additives, including coconut oil capsules.
King says there is broader potential to bring new products to the market that are naturally sourced from Rabi Island.
“We can turn these natural resources into a product that western society is craving,” she says.
Meanwhile, King says Nature Pacific is also connecting with a community in Sri Lanka to replicate the success of its Fijian partnership.
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