World Intellectual Property Organization

Empowering Rural Communities in the Pacific

Pure Fiji Export Ltd., Fiji

The Pacific Ocean is the largest oceanic division in the world and home to some of the most isolated communities. Islands in the vast expanse are home to diverse flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life), with the isolation serving to create unique ecosystems. The Republic of Fiji (Fiji) is one such island country, comprised of over 300 islands and 500 islets (small, usually uninhabited islands) located in the South Pacific Ocean approximately 2,000 kilometers north of New Zealand. Formed through a combination of volcanic and tectonic activity and heavily forested, for thousands of years inhabitants of the Fijian islands have relied on the resources of the forest and ocean for survival and prosperity.

Fiji's location and geographical features endow it with rich natural resources (Photo: Flickr/Venson Kuchipudi)

Oils extracted from the leaves, branches, and nuts of Fiji’s flora are one such resource that has played an important role in the country’s communities. Long valued for their medicinal and beauty purposes, Fijian oils help to protect, nourish, moisturize, and heal skin and hair. In 2000, Pure Fiji Export Ltd. (Pure Fiji) was launched as a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) to bring these products and traditions to international markets. Started by Ms. Gaetane Austin and her daughter Andree, Pure Fiji has become one of the country’s most successful SMEs. With an innovative branding strategy and brand names and products protected by the intellectual property (IP) system, the company continues to bring the traditions, smells, and essences of the lush islands of Fiji to consumers throughout the world.

Goods with specific geographical origin

Fiji is endowed with a total land area of over 18,000 square kilometers that comprises hundreds of islands and islets. The two largest islands – Viti Levu and Vanua Levu – are mountainous and account for most of the land area and the country’s population of just about one million. Fijian islands exhibit a wide range of geographical features, such as mountain ranges reaching over 1,300 meters high, rolling hills, plains, coral reefs, and white sand beaches. With little temperature variation due to the influence of the surrounding ocean (changing only between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius (°C) throughout the year), trade winds, and healthy annual rainfall (up to 6,000 millimeters in certain areas), Fiji’s climate can easily sustain most types of tropical flora.

Leaves and nuts, which are key ingredients to Pure Fiji's products, are abundantly found in Fiji's mountains and forests (Photo: Flickr/Mark Heard)

The country’s remoteness is also a major reason that leads to the diverse and unique properties of its flora. One way in which trees, shrubs, and other plant species arrive to Fiji is via the ocean currents. For example, a seed will fall from a tree on a beach on another island or land mass thousands of kilometers away. When the tide changes, the seed is picked up and tossed into the warm currents of the Pacific Ocean. As it travels the waves, it absorbs nutrients and elements from the ocean while being protected from direct sunlight. The nut then washes ashore on the beach of a Fijian island, takes root, and starts to grow. This process is an important way in which the country’s islands (and other Pacific islands) became forested, and it continues today. Out of the hundreds of thousands of seed-bearing plant species, only a few hundred produce seeds that can withstand the journey through the ocean currents to a new home such as a Fijian island.

The climate, geography, and remoteness of Fiji have thereby served to create a country filled with unique and diverse flora. Coconut and a variety of pine trees (such as the casurina pine that reaches 20 meters high) dot the beaches of the islands while rainforests make up the interior. Mangroves are also abundant, and are crucial to Fijian islands because they serve to strengthen the coastlines and protect the reefs. Sugarcane, papaya, and lavender are just a few in the long list of flora in Fiji that have provided local populations with natural resources for millennia.

Traditional knowledge

Fijians have relied on surrounding flora and other natural resources for many different uses, passing their traditional knowledge down over generations. One such use is for weaving, which has a rich history in the country. Leaves, grass, bark, and husks of local flora are skillfully woven into useful items and artistic expressions. For instance, coconut husks are used to create magimagi, which is a rope-like material that is made from weaving together the fiber of the husks discarded during coconut harvesting. Magimagi was traditionally used as a binding material instead of nails or screws, which were unavailable. It was also used to adorn architectural structures with decorative and intricate designs, and skilled magimagi weavers continue to apply their craft today.

Surrounded by the ocean and tropical forests, Fijians also have a rich history of traditional knowledge of harnessing local resources for food and medicinal purposes. Should a drought occur, people know the appropriate trees and leaves to tap into for water. They also know what plants grow well where and in what time of year, and their skill in fishing has been perfected over thousands of years. Furthermore, Fijians have intricate knowledge of the benefits of oil extracted from nuts, leaves, and flowers, harvesting it for medicinal and beauty purposes.

While the country enjoys an abundance of traditional knowledge in handcrafts, agriculture, fishing, and medicine, much of it has not been harnessed. Pure Fiji is one company, however, that has been able to tap into this traditional knowledge, imbue it with modern techniques, and utilize natural ingredients to develop Fijian products that can be appreciated throughout the world.

Research and development

One day in 1995, Ms. Austin and her daughter Andree, who recently returned to Fiji after working at a hotel chain in the United States of America (USA), were brainstorming ways in which she could continue to support her family after her husband’s recent passing. “I had to find a way of creating a living,” she explained. “It was a question of survival, which is a powerful motivation.” A widowed mother with limited employment opportunities and financial resources, inspiration struck the mother-daughter team on two occasions. The first was when they saw a group of school children happily playing outside, their faces glowing due to coconut oil applied to ward off mosquitos. “Their faces were shining and they were brimming with energy,” said Gaetane. “I thought: ‘why shouldn’t the rest of the world look that happy and healthy?’”

Coconut is a primary ingredient for the company's products (Photo: Flickr/Alex Masters)

The second occasion was when they saw rolls of vau (hibiscus tiliaceus, or beach hibiscus) leaves being unloaded from a nearby truck. As Andree recalls, the sun was shining on the leaves and “We looked around and said…there are all these traditional arts, magimagi, vau (used to make ribbons), and voivoi (leaves used for making mats) and beautiful weaving that the women do.” From the rolls of vau, Gaetane and Andree saw significant potential to harness Fiji’s natural resources and talented women to produce high quality soaps, oils, lotions, and other products.

Together with her daughter, Gaetane used family savings of 8,000 Fijian dollars (FJD$) and launched a company called Sandollars Fiji Ltd. (Sandollars) to produce pressed soap made from natural local ingredients. With no manufacturing facilities, the entrepreneurs hired a local manufacturer to produce the company’s products, while all packaging took place in the family kitchen. Initially two products were produced: Waiwai ni Viti (coconut oil) and Sovu ni Viti (soap). The first completed products were sold to Tappoo Department Stores (Tappoo), a major retailer in the country. After a modest initial order of 12 quickly sold out, Tappoo increased its orders and within a few weeks placed an order for FJD$20,000 of products. With such high demand, the entrepreneurs undertook research and development (R&D) of new products and business strategies.

By 2000 Sandollars was enjoying significant domestic success, but since Fiji’s population is only approximately one million the entrepreneurs knew that if their company were to enjoy continued growth they would have to expand internationally. To that end, in 2000 the Austins opened Pure Fiji to handle the development and export of new and existing products. Given Fiji’s location in the South Pacific Ocean, the entrepreneurs knew that exporting the company’s products would present a fiscal challenge. After researching different strategies, Pure Fiji decided to focus on the niche market of upscale (yet still affordable) soap, beauty, and health products. Doing so allowed the SME to differentiate itself, command higher prices, and help mitigate high exportation costs.

When it comes to the R&D of new products, Pure Fiji relies on those ingredients that are indigenous to the country’s islands and that can be readily harvested from the forests and beaches without any need for cultivation. Over the SME’s product line there are a number of core ingredients, which include organic nut oils (such as coconut, dilo, sikeci, and macadamia), sea grass (flowering marine plants), pineapple, and passionflower. The company employs a skilled industry chemist at its headquarters in the capital city of Suva to assist in the development of new and unique products made from these ingredients and, when necessary, complementing ingredients and tropical fragrances.

By 2014, Pure Fiji’s R&D resulted in products such as soaps, lotions, creams, and fragrances. Moreover, the SME has used its experience and the skill and traditional knowledge of employees in local rural communities to develop additional product lines, such as biodegradable gift paper, wedding accessories, candles, and aroma sticks and mists. Pure Fiji has also created a line of infusion products based on a specific local ingredient, such as coconut, star fruit, and mango. For each ingredient, the company has developed oils, lotions, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners that can be used in spas and at home.

Branding

Core to Pure Fiji’s strategy is developing brands that bring the best of Fiji to the customer. Stressing the importance of branding, Gaetane said, “Fiji branding is very important to us. I think the products have a natural and fresh look that is immediately associated with the tropical South Pacific nation of Fiji.” The company has used this approach in its name and throughout its product line. For example, the company’s logo features a row of colorful tropical flowers or leaves above the Pure Fiji name, and the company’s use of clean designs and bright colors on packaging further evoke the South Pacific Ocean and Fiji. Through these and other products such as gift baskets, handmade with locally sourced Fijian ingredients, Pure Fiji has developed a brand that not only stands for products of high quality, but also one that is affordable and brings the Fijian experience to the customer.

In addition to the main Pure Fiji brand under which a wide variety of products are sold such as beauty, skin and hair care, and oil, the company has developed other brands to differentiate some of its products. The Reniu brand was created to serve as a platform for many of the SME’s coconut-derived products, including coconut oil, lotion, and soaps. In an effort to appeal to a wider market, Pure Fiji developed the Mana’Ia brand name of products specifically for men. Eschewing the typical Pure Fiji logo and colors, Mana’Ia uses darker blues and greens and is accompanied with a Pure Fiji Man slogan.

A strong brand is so integral to the company that Pure Fiji’s branding strategy has allowed it to refrain from significant advertising campaigns. Instead, the SME allows its products and brands to speak for themselves, finding much success through this and word of mouth advertising. For example, in 2002, organizers of the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (the Emmys), a major television award event in the USA, were looking for products to include in a gift basket given to each nominee. After hearing about Pure Fiji on the Internet through customer reviews, the organizers purchased some of the SME’s products to test. Impressed, they chose Pure Fiji’s products to be included in the gift basket, and even invited the company’s founders to join the event. This brought Pure Fiji a significant amount of international attention, all which was a result of the company’s strong brand. Continuing this tradition, Pure Fiji has become one of Fiji’s most successful brands.

Trademarks and domain names

Pure Fiji has protected its brand names through trademark
registrations (Image: USPTO registration #4257482)

Having developed strong brand names, Pure Fiji knew that protecting them was essential for continued growth and as a deterrent to potential infringers. To that end, the SEM has relied on the intellectual property (IP) system. Pure Fiji has made two trademark applications in the USA with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which represents one of the company’s largest markets. The first, for the Pure Fiji name accompanied with an image of flowers, was registered in December 2012. The second application was for a trademark for the company’s name and an image of leaves, which was made in March 2014. As the company’s operations expanded, it made additional trademark applications. The United Kingdom (UK) represents another major market for Pure Fiji, and in 2004 the SME made an application with the UK Intellectual Property Office for its company name and logo, which was registered in 2005. In January 2005, the company made a trademark application in Australia with IP Australia for its Pure Fiji name, which was registered in September of that year. The SME also made a trademark application for its Reniu and Mana’ia names in January 2005, both of which were registered in September 2005.

In addition to trademarks, an important way in which Pure Fiji markets its products is through the Internet. Securing its online presence, the company thereby purchased the purefiji.com domain name, through which customers can directly order Pure Fiji products. To maintain a close relationship with its customers and brand image, the company also utilizes major social networks such as Facebook (where it has over 100,000 “likes”) and Twitter accounts for the company, its spa, and its Australian presence. With trademarks protected by the IP system and strong Internet activities, the company has been able to successfully expand the reach of its brands into new markets.

Commercialization

Following Pure Fiji’s early success, the family kitchen quickly became an inadequate production premises. In late 2001, the company rented nearby space in what became Pure Fiji’s first factory. Only a few years later the SME outgrew this location, and in 2004 constructed a new headquarters complex in Vatuwaqa, an industrial subdivision of Suva. This facility includes the company’s offices, production factory, and a spa equipped with modern amenities where customers can experience the company’s products.

Instead of mass production, Pure Fiji follows the “just-in-time” philosophy. This strategy aims to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only when they are needed in the production process, which reduces inventory costs. It is a strategy that also allows Pure Fiji to provide income for those in rural areas, especially for women, who make up approximately 75% of the company’s workforce. Using “just-in-time,” Pure Fiji provides employment opportunities for over 500 people in village communities by relying on them to harvest and process ingredients such as coconut oil, natural paper, masi (cloth from tree bark), magimagi, and woven baskets on an as-needed basis. The ingredients are then used to produce the necessary product quantity based on orders received. Once produced, filled, labeled, and packed, the finished products are shipped once per week either by air or sea, depending on the required speed of each order.

A majority of Pure Fiji’s products are based on nut-derived oils. To commercialize these oils into products, the oil must first be extracted, and three main methods exist: solvent, supercritical carbon dioxide, and pressed (with or without added heat). Solvent is the most common, but uses a chemical agent (typically hexane, which is derived from petroleum) that can leave potentially harmful residue. Many natural minerals are also lost during the process. Supercritical carbon dioxide uses heated, pressurized carbon dioxide to safely extract a high amount of nutrient-rich oil (up to 90%), but it is very expensive, with basic equipment costing over US$1 million.

Pressed extraction – in which the nut or other ingredient is ground and pressed – is cost effective and, when heat is applied, quick and efficient. However, the direct heat application (up to 230°C) results in degradation of nutrients, aroma, and color. Pressed extraction without direct heat application – known as “cold pressed” – has a lower oil yield but retains a high level of original nutrients and aromatics. This method still does involve some heat, either for indirect heating or as a result of friction, but the temperature range is typically between 27°C and 60°C. In Fiji, the Food Safety Regulations of 2009 state that cold pressed oils can only be obtained without direct application of heat.

While typical cold pressing brings with it many benefits (such as cost-effectiveness and high quality), something else was needed. Pure Fiji’s goal of sourcing ingredients directly from local communities, thereby providing sustainable and easily accessible employment opportunities for women, meant that oil extraction would have to be done in these communities. While these communities use traditional extraction techniques, the resulting oil has a very brief shelf life and would not be feasible for export. Typical cold pressing could be used, but it requires large, expensive machinery that needs regular maintenance, and installing and maintaining such equipment in rural communities throughout the country meant that it was not a feasible option for Pure Fiji. 

Thanks to the DME method, oils from coconuts and other flora can be quickly and sustainably processed at the source (Photo: Flickr/Mattie Hagedorn)

After further research, the SME discovered the Direct Micro Expelling (DME) method, which is a cold pressing variant that was pioneered by Dr. Dan Etherington. The DME method uses simple, affordable equipment to quickly produce small and manageable daily batches of oil that are ready for sale to companies such as Pure Fiji. After nuts have been ground with a simple mechanical grater, the material is placed on a flat metal sheet that is heated to a low temperature (not exceeding 60°C) by solar energy or a low fire. Once dried, the material is manually pressed into a vertical cylinder to extract the oil, which retains most of its natural nutrients, aroma, and color and has a long shelf life. The DME method can extract up to 85% of a nut’s oil within one hour, does not use any fuel, can be done in teams of 3 to 7 people in as much or as little time as desired, and is sustainable.

Because of the benefits of the cold pressed DME method, Pure Fiji uses it for all of the company’s oil derived products. In line with the SME’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, it uses passive solar dryers. Striving to leave as little waste as possible, leftover materials such as shells from nuts and the pressed paste are milled into fertilizer. Moreover, in the case of harvesting ingredients, only the nut, fruit, flowers, or branches of a plant are used, the rest remaining untouched. In the case of nuts in particular, only those that naturally fall to the ground are harvested. To ensure sustainability many trees and plants are left alone and new ones are regularly planted, which guarantees future supply while allowing the company to abstain from large-scale irrigation and cultivation.

Quality control is essential to Pure Fiji’s brand reputation, and the company is also required to meet the standards of its export markets, such as regulations from the Food and Drug Administration of the USA. Before a product is manufactured, the raw materials are inspected, tested, and a sample of the finished product is produced. Once approved, the rest of the batch is produced and personally inspected before it is ready for shipping. To ensure that the company’s products were not damaged during shipment, they are inspected again upon arrival and any necessary repairs are made before they are distributed to the client.

By 2014, Pure Fiji was producing and exporting products in ten different categories. In addition to its line of beauty products, the SME also commercializes ambience products (such as candles, mists, and aroma sticks) based on natural Fijian ingredients; skin repair products using the dilo tree and marketed as Dilo Rescue; coconut oil marketed under the Reniu brand name; and the Mana’ia line of treatment products for men, which includes lotions, gels, and oils again made from natural Fijian ingredients.

Most of the company’s products are sold to international hotels (including Bellagio, Wynn Resorts, and Ritz Carlton), spas, airports, and department stores. In addition, the company operates the Pure Fiji Boutique on Denarau Island in Fiji and offers its products for sale directly to individual customers through its online stores in a number of countries (including Australia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA), and on airlines such as Fiji Airways and Air Pacific.

Public health and food security

For women in many rural communities in Fiji, there is limited access to employment opportunities, educational and health care services, and a secure supply of balanced food for themselves and their families. Recognizing this, Pure Fiji launched initiatives to help two such small communities (with populations between 150 and 300), particularly Makoi, located on the outskirts of Suva, and the remote community of Wai-ni-Makutu, located in Namosi province west of the capital. The company achieved this through training new skills to women in these communities, promoting the development of cooperatives, and then relying on them to supply certain ingredients integral to Pure Fiji’s products.

Traditional skills used to make products such masi cloth have empowered women in traditional communities (Photo: Flickr/Matt Westoby)

To reflect the natural ingredients in their products and their Fijian origin, many are packaged in colorful paper. Initially importing this paper from the Republic of Indonesia, the Austins realized that the resources necessary to produce handmade paper were available at home in Fiji and that it would be ideal for a community-based supplier initiative. Fijians have a long and rich history of using the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree (broussonetia papyifera) to hand make masi (or tapa cloth), which is a cloth used for traditional ceremonies. When masi are produced, the outer bark remains unused and is discarded. The Austins surmised that if these leftovers are harvested and combined with other organic pulps from local plants and trees (such as bamboo, sugar cane, and pineapple leaves), it could be used to make natural and beautiful handmade paper.

With the help of the New Zealand High Commission of Fiji and the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (an international organization that provides non-financial services to African, Caribbean, and Pacific enterprises), Pure Fiji recruited an expert from New Zealand to teach women in the Wai-ni-Makutu community how to make paper of a high quality that can be internationally competitive. Called the Pepa Ni Viti project, the company set up a processing plant, complete with the required equipment, and provided the necessary training. As a result, women in the community became skilled paper makers. They are able to complete all steps of the production process, from sourcing the correct natural ingredients to the final steps of dying and testing the paper. Previously unemployed, women participating in the project create between 1,000 and 5,000 sheets of paper per week in two types: thicker sheets for bags and thinner sheets for wrapping products. Thanks to this initiative, these women – and many of their relatives who have joined in the sourcing and processing – have not only been able to make a high quality product appreciated by consumers around the world, but have also been able to increase their livelihood.

Empowered by this change, women involved in this project have used their newfound income to significantly help their communities. For example, they were able to install a generator, providing electricity which brought with it access to pumped water, which is very important for the public health and food security of the community. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, poor access to water represents a critical constraint to adequate food production and is a major cause of poverty and hunger. Because it is typically women that gather and manage water resources, pumped water allows them to spend more time to increase their income – such as through Pure Fiji’s paper initiative – which improves their diet and that of their family’s.

Increased income and access to electricity also allowed the community access to a refrigerator and freezer. This has brought significant public health benefits, as people are able to access previously unattainable food (such as items that require preservation in a refrigerator or freezer), have a more balanced diet throughout the year, and enjoy increased food security. Refrigeration ensures the safety of perishable food items of plant and animal origin, substantially reducing bacterial growth and foodborne diseases. This benefits all members of the community, helping to provide a balanced, safe diet, and keep people properly nourished. In addition, the paper production initiative has helped pay for the construction of new educational facilities. New classrooms and a library were added to a secondary school in Wai-ni-Makutu, increasing access to education for over 150 children.

On a trip to the markets in Suva one would be able to find woven baskets for sale by women from Makoi village. While they are skilled weavers, on a good day they would only be able to sell a few baskets. Pure Fiji saw an opportunity to tap into their talent to launch another initiative that not only provided the company with a supply of woven baskets, but also provided the women with increased income and a better quality of life. The company uses woven baskets as a container for some of its product lines or at special events, such as at the Emmys (2002). Instead of importing these baskets, the company created a partnership with the weavers of Makoi.

When baskets are required, Pure Fiji supplies weavers in Makoi with the dimensions (in the form of a wooden block that the basket can be woven around), number needed, and quality standards that must be met for the baskets to be purchased. The weavers create the baskets and bring them to Pure Fiji’s factory, where the company purchases them for cash. Because the SME requires consistent quality, many of the weavers have been able to increase their skill. As a result, they are able to sell more baskets to Pure Fiji and other customers. “My life has changed since starting the business,” said Ms. Mereani Rogo Walesi, a weaver from Makoi, when explaining how the initiative has benefited her and her family. “We are able to…send children to school and meet other domestic and traditional commitments.” Depending on the order, weavers in Makoi produce up to 200 baskets per week.

Pure Fiji's programs have benefited the public health and food security of people in rural communities, including children (Photo: Flickr/Kanaka Menehune)

Because of this initiative, weavers in Makoi have been able to increase their income, enhance their skill, and benefit their community. For example, many households now have access to electricity and water tanks, which provide safer water and lessen the need for daily water collection. This means they can focus more on their individual basket weaving businesses, thereby increasing their livelihood and better providing for their families and communities. A number of weavers in Makoi have also been able to use their increased income to pay school tuition fees for their children.

Beyond these initiatives, Pure Fiji’s use of the DME cold press method has contributed to greater food security and access to health care for the company’s suppliers. Because raw ingredients are processed at the source, suppliers in rural villages – predominantly women – have access to employment that does not require them to travel outside of their communities. Moreover, the quick processing feature of the DME method means that suppliers can spend as little or as much time as they have available to process raw ingredients. Given the important role these women play in their communities and individual families, the ability to work in their own homes over flexible time periods has given them a sustainable form of employment. As a result, women can spend more time on improving their communities with the money they earn, such as installing generators for electricity and refrigerators for food preservation, the ability to pay for necessary health care, and increasing educational access for children through building schools.

When raw ingredients are processed for oil, waste is left over in the form of shells, husks, and the compressed cake from which the oil was extracted. Instead of being discarded, this waste is used to increase the food security of rural communities. Shells, husks, and other plant waste are mixed together and used as fertilizer for gardens, which contributes to the increased supply of fresh vegetables and fruit. The compressed cake, now devoid of most oil, is used as food for both people and livestock. Still containing many nutrients such as protein, the leftover cake ensures healthy livestock (a vital source of food resources), which in turn increases the communities’ public health. In addition, because the cake is suitable for human consumption it can be finely ground into flour and used as a valuable dietary supplement.

Partnerships

In September 2011, the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, an independent, non-profit partnership between the public and private sectors in New Zealand and other Pacific island countries, launched the True Pacific program. Working closely with producers of food, beverage, and unique artesian products in the Pacific islands, the program helps these producers grow and reach new markets. To that end, True Pacific developed a quality mark – “True Pacific, the Best of the Pacific” – and associated licensing scheme.

To join the program and license the quality mark, a producer must register with True Pacific and meet a set of assessment criteria, such as the implementation of sound business practices, consistent product quality and shelf life, and compliance to all health and safety standards of target markets. Pure Fiji was the first company to receive True Pacific accreditation, which verifies to customers the origin and quality of the Pure Fiji brand and helps the company expand in New Zealand and other countries. Explaining the importance of the certification to the company, Carla Konia, spokesperson for Pure Fiji in New Zealand, said “We feel very passionately about what True Pacific is trying to achieve. Not only do we promote businesses, we also lift the profile of the area and were the products are produced.”

Business results

Starting out with limited resources and in a region where exporting is expensive, Pure Fiji has become a fast growing company and brand. Only a few years after its foundation, the SME’s products were in demand by major international hotel chains (such as Sofitel), were featured in magazines (such as Women’s Day and Healing Arts), and were used at major award shows (such as the Emmys in the USA). Pure Fiji is the only cosmetic manufacturer based in Fiji, and it grew from a small family operation to employing over 100 people and providing opportunities for over 500 more through the sourcing and processing of raw ingredients. With the company’s brand names protected by the IP system through trademark registrations, by 2014 Pure Fiji’s products were being exported to distributors in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA.

The company’s products and success have also been recognized on numerous occasions. Pure Fiji was the first company that is solely owned by women to win the Fiji Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Award (2001) and has won many awards since, such as the ECO Packaging Award from the Health & Beauty Association (2007), the Fiji-Australia Business Council Exporter to Australia Award (2011), and the Asia and Pacific Coconut Community Award (2013).

Traditions from across the ocean

With warm beaches, beautiful reefs, and lush tropical rainforests, the natural beauty and resources of Fiji are readily apparent. The country’s location in the South Pacific Ocean, however, perhaps makes it less apparent that it is an ideal location to base an exporting company. Indeed, Pure Fiji faced many challenges when it first started, which included high export costs due to the distance of the company’s target markets. By harnessing local traditional knowledge and ingredients, Pure Fiji was able to develop sustainable, environmentally friendly products while providing employment means for hundreds of people and bringing an affordable piece of Fiji to customers throughout the world.

This case study is based on information from:

Explore WIPO