The rise of Banaban

Nature Pacific (Pty Ltd) has just reached a new level with its move to a new 2.5 million dollar facility on the Gold Coast.IMG_6615

It’s one of many coconut companies riding the wave of the coconut craze and its brand, Banaban, now wears the Australian Certified Organic logo.

After years of marketing virgin coconut oil in the natural health marketplace, Banaban brand sales leapt in the 2011/12 financial year to over 133 per cent growth, reaching further growth of 50 per cent in 2012/13. In 2014 the company’s sales are on track to hit 70 per cent growth. Nature Pacific sources its product from Fiji.

The company recently expanded in overseas markets with new brand distribution into Germany, New Zealand and Canada. It also has a contract ready for United States distribution as soon as the new Fiji expansion is complete later in the year.

Staying real to Fiji

Nature Pacific is determined to stay focused on how and why it was formed – to educate people about the Banaban residents on Fiji’s Rabi Island and the destruction of their homeland, Banaba in the Kiribati Republic, through 80 years of phosphate mining. Nature Pacific is a Banaban-owned, family company with 10 members of the family now on staff in Australia and 50 Banaban relatives working on the farm in Fiji.

The directors, Banaban Ken Sigrah and Australian Stacey King, believed over the years that while a company (owned by the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) had destroyed Ken’s island homeland, it would also be a company that would rebuild it.

They didn’t realise it would be the company they started in their garage with a dream to tell the story of the Banabans’ plight on every product and in turn help them to fund their ongoing aid and development projects and lobby on a global scale.

Nature Pacific’s new facility, Banaban House – Coconut Lifestyle & Training Centre, is dedicated to all things coconut and embraces and shares the culture of Fiji and the Banaban Pacific way of life, including history, food, culture, crafts and much more. Its new 280 square metre manufacturing area has been designed and built to HACCP food standards and the sales and marketing area includes a fully functional Fijian bure (wood and straw hut) to inspire and innovate the marketing team. The building also has a purpose built cooking demonstration room.

In keeping with community connections, Nature Pacific will hold daily yoga, Pilates and meditation classes and a local Fiji association is planning weekly women’s health and nutrition classes run in cooperation with Queensland Health.

Stacey says, “This is just the start of a whole new concept incorporating trade, culture and healthy lifestyle pursuits all linked back to the humble coconut.”

Coconut oil capsules

Nature Pacific is also involved in a three-year research project with the University of Southern Queensland, which investigates the health properties of coconuts, and it has become the first company in Australia to have its coconut oil approved as a listed medicine by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Nature Pacific has developed a therapeutic division, which will market coconut oil capsules and a new patented health powder.

That’s what you call going coconuts!