Cracking investment: Nambawan Super investment fuels growth at Paradise Foods


In late 2021, PNG’s largest superannuation find, Nambawan Super, increased its holding in Paradise Company Limited, owner of Paradise Foods and Laga Industries, to 100 per cent. Michael Penrose, Paradise’s CEO, tells Business Advantage PNG how the fund’s support is helping the food manufacturer expand.

Paradise Foods biscuits. Credit: BAI

Nambawan Super’s increased investment in the Paradise Group of Companies has come at a good time for the company, according to CEO, Michael Penrose, who took over the reins at Paradise back in January.

The company, which manufactures a wide range of biscuits, soft drinks, ice cream and chocolate, has seen the retail market rebound in the last 12 months and is seeing good volumes and organic growth.

‘Nambawan Super investing in the business is timely. We currently have some significant capacity restraints in our biscuit lines, with old machines and old baking lines. With the current growth we are experiencing, we definitely need an upgrade,’ Penrose tells Business Advantage PNG.

Get cracking

Paradise Food’s Michael Penrose

‘Part of the investment has been the purchase of a brand new cracker line that will give us a significant capacity uplift, which we severely need at the moment to just meet current demand.’

Savoury biscuit demand has been driven in part by consumers substituting staples like rice for biscuits during the pandemic due to cost.

The new cracker line, worth K34 million and due for completion in the second quarter of 2023, will be built at Paradise’s factory in Lae and will allow for a doubling of production.

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To support this expansion, Nambawan Super is also putting money into a new national distribution centre, also in Lae – a K28 million investment which should be ready by the end of 2023.

‘The national distribution centre is to support the new cracker line,’ Penrose explains. ‘This will allow us to not only meet current demand but seriously expand the breadth of our distribution.‘

‘We will definitely need more people but we will also need new skill sets’

Growth in production, growth in staff

Penrose says the group is expected to be increasing recruitment in line with the expanded capacity.

‘There is an element of growing from within but I think we will have to inject some new talent as well,’ he says. ‘We will definitely need more people but we will also need new skill sets with the cracker line that is coming in to play, it’s new technology so we will be employing new people and upskilling our own people to be able optimise that new capacity.‘

Penrose says that, while Paradise Foods has seen growth come back, he believes that there is still some way to go before businesses return to pre-COVID levels.

He notes there are still some supply chain issues and is keeping a close eye on flour imports – the core ingredient in Paradise’s biscuits.

But they are not only expanding their biscuit capacity but also looking to grow all categories like the chocolate and beverage lines. 

Paradise Foods and Laga Industries sales and marketing staff at their inaugural national sales conference earlier this month. Credit: Paradise Company

Export opportunities

Paradise Foods sources much of its cocoa from Wewak and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation recently showed interest in the region, training farmers to treat farming more as a business but also to improve cocoa quality.

With its current growth, Penrose says Paradise has tentatively begun looking at opportunities to exporting some of its cocoa products such as cocoa liquor and cocoa butter to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. He says some upgrades may be in the works for its chocolate manufacturing facility too.

‘It is still very much in its early stages but we have put out some feelers and some product out and we have had some positive feedback,’ he says.

‘The challenge now is the upgrade of the Port Moresby chocolate plant so we can prove to these potential customers that we can meet quality and the quantity that they’re after.’

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