Selling PNG’s produce to the world


Papua New Guinea’s produce and products continue to find new markets overseas.

Currently, the vast bulk of PNG’s exports are raw or part-processed commodities such as coffee, cocoa, palm oil and timber, although there is an increased emphasis on value-adding prior to export. The way to market differs depending on the produce.

Commodity exports

PNG coffee’s major markets are Europe and the United States, with the larger international coffee companies accounting for the bulk of green bean exports. Several PNG coffee companies, such as Kongo Coffee and Carpenter Estates, are now exporting roasted beans to achieve higher prices.

PNG’s largest palm oil producer, New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), also exports unrefined produce to Europe but has taken the step of building its own palm oil refinery in the United Kingdom—close to its major European customers—in order to add value. As demand for sustainably produced palm oil rises, NBPOL’s continued export success will be underpinned by its certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Another major commodity, cocoa, currently supplies around two per cent of the global market and there is potential to increase production significantly. Meanwhile, spices such as vanilla, pepper and mace are being processed and packaged for sale internationally by companies such as Paradise Spices and Pacific Spices.

In the fisheries sector, much of PNG’s tuna catch—estimated to be between 100,00 and 150,000 metric tonnes—is taken directly from the waters of PNG’s exclusive economic zone by foreign-owned purse seine vessels and landed in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and China.

Meanwhile, round logs and sawn timber continue to be the major forms of forestry export, with China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam the largest export markets.

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Value-added exports

While PNG’s manufacturers are largely focused on meeting rising local demand, exports are occurring in specific niche areas.

S P Brewery now exports its signature S P Lager Beer to neighbouring Queensland in Australia, for instance, while Paradise Foods sells its biscuits and snacks across the Pacific Islands—one of several PNG manufacturers to do so (K K Kingston, Woo Textile and PNG Taiheiyo Cement are some others). Melanesian neighbours the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji are particularly common destinations for PNG-manufactured products.

Meanwhile, companies such as Lae Builders and Contractors, PNG Forest Products and Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry are leading the way by showing that round logs need not be PNG’s only timber-based exports. All produce wooden furniture for export, while the latter two also produce prefabricated wooden buildings. With new forestry leases in PNG requiring an element of value-adding from 2011 onwards, more PNG timber products are likely to be exported in the future.

Notably, tuna canned or loined in PNG is being exported by a fastgrowing local fish processing industry, particularly to Europe, where PNG tuna has free market access. There is also a small but notable niche market for PNG handicrafts.

Export assistance

In addition to the PNG Investment Promotion Authority, which helps promote PNG exporters, an important role is played by Pacific Islands Trade and Invest (PT&I), the trade promotion agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

‘When you talk to buyers, importers, distributors their concern is with quality and consistency. No matter who is supplying, those will always be the issues,’ notes Caleb Jarvis, PT&I’s Trade Comissioner. ‘Coming out of the Pacific and PNG there are some excellent products. But like anywhere else there can be problems with supply and consistency. It is important PNG exporters meet international market needs. PT&I can assist exporters through the provision of services focused on research, packaging, labelling, customised buyer visits and attendance at relevant trade events.’

PT&I facilitates introductions between PNG producers and buyers overseas and has already made significant progress in areas such as premium cocoa exports for chocolate manufacture and the marketing of spices and essential oils.

‘We are working with businesses, consolidators, cooperatives who help prepare it, grade it, package it, label it and export it and get it ready for domestic and international markets,’ says Jarvis, who sees the Northern Hemisphere as PNG’s major agricultural export opportunity: ‘In agribusiness—cocoa, coffee, palm oil, copra—all roads lead to the Northern Hemisphere. The real demand is there.’

Selling to consumers

Not surprisingly, given PNG’s reliance on commodity exports, its produce has a low profile with consumers overseas, although this is changing.

Chocolate manufacturers in Australia and Europe are now selecting prime PNG cocoa for ‘single plantation’ gourmet chocolate bars, while specialist roasters are also marketing PNG Fairtrade coffee, with the country of origin and even the plantation prominently displayed.

Likewise, PNG’s premium dried spices can now be found in specialty stores internationally.

Interestingly, a pilot scheme to develop a ‘true Pacific quality’ mark aimed at consumers is currently being conducted in New Zealand by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation with seed funding from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This project will promote the goods of PNG exporters who meet the ‘True Pacific’ quality criteria to New Zealand consumers, alongside goods from five other Pacific Islands. In January 2011, seven unnamed PNG enterprises were assessed. The project will employ a variety of marketing activities, including social media, trade marketing, consumer events and advertising, to promote the goods under a ‘True Pacific’ quality brand and encourage niche retailers to retail the goods.

According to Chris Cocker, the Pacific Cooperation Foundation’s acting CEO, the ‘True Pacific’ quality campaign itself is being kept under wraps ahead of a mid-2011 launch, but he was able to reveal to Business Advantage that the project will target three areas of produce—fresh produce, spa and body products, and long-life products.

‘PNG coffee is renowned, and it has some good spices and long-life products too,’ he notes. ‘The project started off as a “country of origin” marketing exercise, but the market research we commissioned in 2010 soon revealed that saying goods were from the Pacific wasn’t enough: they also had to be of good quality. So, we’ll be focusing on value with the campaign; on quality rather than quantity.’

While the targets of the campaign will be New Zealand consumers and retailers, Cocker says the Pacific quality mark has the potential to be rolled out in other markets once established.

Papua New Guinea’s Export Markets

1. Australia 5664.2 million kina

2. Japan 1743.2

3. Philippines 880.5

4. Germany 610.8

5. South Korea 463.9

6. China 413.9

7. Singapore 341.3

8. Spain 334.9

9. Great Britain 164.5

10. United States 163.7

11. Netherlands 157.5

12. Malaysia 122.9

13. Italy 112.1

14. Hong Kong 108

15. Indonesia 82.7

Source: Bank of PNG (2009 figures)

Papua New Guinea’s non-mineral exports

Commodity million kina

Palm oil 714.3

Forest products 476.8

Coffee 460.3

Cocoa 337.3

Marine products 232.9

Copra oil 87.9

Rubber 26

Tea 18.4

Copra 12.4

Other 160

Source: Bank of PNG (2009 figures)

This article first published in Business Advantage PNG 2011/2012



  1. Ruth. Malval.Haenere says

    Iam interested in selling my PNG original 3 in 1 nescafe niugini blend, could you help find some small shops or hotels were I can supply to them from Papua New Guinea. Thanks for your reply. Malval

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