World’s first carbon-neutral meals

Fresh food innovator Pitango has gained CarboNZero status by becoming the first company in the world to sell carbon neutral meals, an achievement that will further accelerate this already fast-growing export business.

The Auckland firm has launched ready-to-eat organic or free range risottos, curries and porridge carrying its new carbon neutral branding, building on the success of its existing range of fresh organic soups and organic dips.

At the heart of Pitango is a passion to create fresh, healthy and convenient food that tastes great, says marketing director Yasmin Shenav, who set up the business with husband Ofer in 2000.

“It is very important for us as an export business to look to the global picture. We are always searching for ways to bring more value to our products and becoming carbon neutral is about the bigger environmental picture. We are not only providing better food, we are helping bring about a better world.”

Shenav looks after Pitango’s sales and marketing while Ofer, a trained chef, is the brains behind Pitango’s healthy and flavoursome branded retail products.

Exports now account for about 60 percent of sales. Australia is Pitango’s major market. The company is also expanding into Asia and the USA, selling to supermarkets through agents and distributors who have the expertise, networks and passion to grow the Pitango brand.

Pitango was ranked by Deloitte’s as one of New Zealand’s 50 fastest growing companies last year, a reflection of its 50 percent-plus annual growth, says Shenav. It’s a trend Pitango expects to continue, supported by its new carbon neutral status, new product range and market expansion.

Michael Fountaine, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise sector manager food and beverage, says Pitango’s fast growth can be attributed to the company seeing a need in the marketplace – in this case the consumer’s concern for creating a better more environmentally-friendly world – and developing new products to meet that expectation.

He says Pitango has received support from NZTE, including an Enterprise Development Grant, which has allowed them to research in-depth the needs of present and new markets.

Pitango gained its CarboNZero certification through a programme managed by Landcare Research, one of New Zealand’s leading providers of solutions for sustainable development.

The process took six months and required a lot of effort and money, says Shenav. It involved measuring Pitango’s emissions, developing a programme to manage and reduce those emissions and mitigating total emission output – in Pitango’s case by investing in renewable fuels in New Zealand.

Reducing emissions has seen Pitango make changes throughout the business, from distribution – most of its products are now sent by sea rather than air – to using recyclable materials and reducing energy consumption.

Pitango achieved its carbon neutral status late last year, about the same time it was certified organic by Australian Certified Organic. It also won the 2007 New Zealand Organic Exporter of the Year Award. Shenav says Pitango is proud of both its environmental and business achievements.

“We’ve created something good for our family, our loved ones and for the planet. And we are helping consumers feel that too every time they buy a Pitango product.”

For more information contact:

Yasmin at Pitango

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