When two farming friends from North Canterbury were faced with a surplus harvest back in the summer of 1996, they got together to preserve their delicious summer fruits using old family recipes and turn the robust flavours into something truly sensational. Those first fruit pastes awakened taste buds, as well as long-forgotten food traditions.

What is your company background, how did you start the business?

“The company was started by my mother Alison Meyer and her friend Gaye Rutherford which is where the name came from. It is now owned by me and my husband Russell Coventry. We had been looking for a business the year before our daughter was born that we could take on and grow, when the opportunity arose to purchase Rutherford & Meyer. We liked the idea that there was growth potential with the fruit paste market both nationally and internationally – this was the only product in the range at the time.”

What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?

“Our current range is fruit paste (seven different flavours), gourmet wafers (three flavours with a fourth to be launched shortly), rice wafers (three flavours) and honey based products. We are about ‘Elevating Your Taste’ so everything we do is has to be tied back to this – from ingredients, to packaging, to the team members. We are about short and simple ingredient lists, we like the customer to know the ingredients on the list. The products have to be natural with no artificial colours or flavours and no preservatives. We only use the best ingredients and they must fit our criteria. For example, the cheese we use is grated specifically for us as it cannot contain any preservatives. All products except the gourmet wafers are gluten free. To help our products stand out on the shelf we are always looking for new and different ways to help display them that fit in with the retailer. Recently we have designed some wooden display trays for our fruit paste. Stores both in New Zealand and the USA love them – they are high end so they fit in with what our customers want and they highlight the product so sales have increased.”

Has there been any recent company news?

“There is always something happening at R&M. Look for the new branding which will start to flow through in a few months’ time as well as our new products towards the end of the year.”

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon? 

“New product launches and range extensions before the end of the year in New Zealand as well as increasing the pull-through of our products on-shelf in the US and increasing product availability with key retailers in the USA. The US is an exciting market despite the complexity that surrounds the route to market.”

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? 

“Most supermarkets in New Zealand and some specialty stores carry our products. We also export to the US and a little bit to Asia. Expansion will come from our new products in New Zealand as well as increasing our availability up in the US – new channels, expanding the current distribution and introducing new products to our existing range.”