Recently founded by Farhia Ahmed, Zam Zam Cultural Foods has been an immediate sensation. The start up produces a delicious range of samosa and Somali hot sauces, all based on traditional recipes and fine-tuned for the New Zealand's market. As Farhia had no prior business experience, she seeked advice from Business Trust Marlborough, a free business advisory service that helped her work through the financial and legal side of starting a business.

What is your company background? How did you start the business?
"Farhia Ahmed, the creative force behind these products, first produced her range of samosa and Somali hot sauce for a Cultural Day at Marlborough Girl’s College where her daughters attend school. The overwhelmingly positive feedback she received inspired her to embark on a market research mission initially, experimenting and fine tuning her recipes on the way. During the course of this market research, she realised that these products offered something different to what was currently available and that their appeal came from the unique recipes which create a product unlike the other hot sauces available. Farhia was very open to approaching anyone she thought may be able to provide her with any advice or contacts to promote her product. Her very simple philosophy seems to be “just ask”, and this has opened many doors and opportunities."

What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
"Currently Zam Zam Cultural Foods produces Somali Hot and Mild sauce based on a traditional Somali recipe handed through Farhia’s family. A focus has been on producing a product as natural as possible from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The sauce is gluten, dairy and nut-free. She is also considering an option to produce a diabetic-friendly product. This sauce is a Halal product and so appeals to the wider ethnic community as well as the average adventurous Kiwi.
Farhia also makes beef and chicken samosa although she is still working through some of the details around producing these commercially. Again the use of the best locally sourced meat, herbs and vegetables and a unique recipe base has been a winning combination. These are dairy and nut-free."

Has there been any recent company news?
"A two new dipping sauces are currently being trialled and tested. Two flavours are currently being produced: mint and capsicum. The dipping sauce base includes tamarind, sultana, coriander, ginger and garlic and is delicious with a range of breads, vegetables and chips. Farhia also has a Somali bread that she would like to introduce, which is very popular with her family and friends. This is a glazed sweet bread with a creamy filling, ideal for sharing."

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
"In the short term, Zam Zam Cultural Foods is looking to increase the supply and availability of its Somali hot sauce via the national supermarket chains. They are also working on refining the samosa production process to be able to present this product nationally. The owners are considering working in partnership with a local supermarket owner to further promote the products through supermarkets nationally."

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
"Currently Zam Zam Somali Hot Sauce is available through specialty stores in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson and Blenheim and is supplied directly to cafes in the Marlborough and Nelson region. Local supermarket Picton Supervalue also stocks the sauces. Going forward, Farhia would also like to see the sauces available in supermarkets throughout the country and is working towards this."