New Zealand food businesses star at New York food show in bid to crack US market

A number of Kiwi food businesses are in New York this week, hoping to crack into the lucrative US market.

They're marketing their products at an event in front of thousands of potential competitors.

As the Fancy Food Show arrived in Manhattan, it seemed like the rest of the world came with it.

They brought chocolate and cakes from Europe, oils and breads from Africa - even plant-based 'jerky' from Waiheke Island.

Jade Gray's Off-Piste Provisions has been in the US market for just one week. It's early days, but she sees huge potential.

"So there's a big plant-based movement here, there's a big gluten-free movement so we're playing into those key metrics, those key demographics," Gray said.

The American dream though, isn't one that's realised overnight for Kiwi exporters.

Wellington cracker and food paste business Rutherford and Meyer knows how much work it takes.

"At home in New Zealand when we get something accepted it can be on the shelves within six weeks. But that is certainly not the case here," Jan Meyer said.

In fact, Meyer said it can take months and even a year to appear in front of American shoppers.

Nearly all the Kiwi companies Newshub has spoken to have talked about how hard it can be to break into the US market. But if they do, the payoff can be huge.

Exports from New Zealand to the US totalled more than $12 billion in 2022.

"I think we can be ten times the business we are now; there is enormous potential," said Lewis Road Creamery VP of sales and operations Steve Muir.

Lewis Road Creamery is one step closer to that goal after this week. The Kiwi dairy company's salted butter won the coveted 'Product of the Year' award at this week's show.

That's the result, he says, of four to five years of hard graft in America.

"You need to have people on the ground who are really working stores and hustling," Muir said.

"Being from New Zealand is not going to make it up here. It's a great 'nice to have', but it's not your only selling point that is going to make your product successful."

Success other Kiwi companies will hope to emulate as they look for a big slice of that American business pie.