Guest Post – Bula Batiki Update4 October 2018
Callum Drummond is a Cardiff University graduate and founder of Bula Batiki, raw Fijian coconut oil.
Callum, along with co-founder Ellis Williams set up the business after experiencing the struggle to generate an income on the remote island of Batiki, while on a volunteering expedition with Think Pacific.
They wanted to do something that could help their host families, and benefit the whole island. Having seen that Batiki was able to produce coconut oil, and knowing the high demand for coconut oil in the UK, they immediately began working on business plans.
Their plan to make extra virgin coconut oil won the Cardiff University Spark Enterprise Award in 2016, which gave them £2,000 to kick start the venture.
As I write this, I am on my way to the Australian Fine Food exhibition in Melbourne to tell the Bula Batiki story, and to hopefully increase sales to the Australian market.
We have been a very busy island over the last few months. Whilst our daily lives on the island are spent fishing and farming, we have also been making big developments within our island business.
We have recently received a grant that is allowing us to get our EU Organic and HACCP (Food Safety) certificates, which would make us the first non-private island in the Pacific to have this level of certification. The audit for our certification is happening in Batiki this week, so we should find out confirmation shortly after. We have also become the first village processing facility in Fiji to have a food safety certificate, so we are incredibly proud as an island to have achieved this.
As we now create all stages of the coconut oil process in Batiki (such as jarring and labelling, which we used to do in the UK), we have been able to start selling in Fiji. This is having a huge impact on our community as we do not have to worry about shipping costs and time. After meeting Fiji’s Olympic gold medal coach, Ben Ryan, and posting a video of him endorsing our jar on social media, we were contacted by one of the top retailers in the Pacific (Jack’s of Fiji) in order to stock our product across the island. So now Bula Batiki is available across a lot of the top resorts in Fiji!
Looking into the future, we are working very closely with an organisation called ‘The Earth Care Agency’ in order to develop our business skills on the island, such as money management and accountancy, as well as working on adding additional organic products (we are currently looking into coconut flour, vanilla and potentially honey).
We have also just received a grant to build a new processing facility in Batiki next year, which will allow us to have proper production facilities, and means that we will have space to produce other products in the future. In order to secure the funding for the facility, we had to give a presentation which required drawings of the processing facility that we wish to build.
So, we gave our friends at Caukin a call (also Spark winners!), and they produced the drawings for us (which look incredible!). It was brilliant to be able to work together as projects that both started at Cardiff University, and we are incredibly grateful for all of the support that Caukin provided for us. We are now looking at doing a collaborative project to build the facility next year, which is incredibly exciting!