After two years of extensive market and consumer research, Hellers has established a strong presence in the Australian market with its retail-ready precooked sausages. Sold initially into the Costco chain at a rate of one container a week, Hellers’ ‘Chunky Cheese’ sausages, made of lightly seasoned beef with chunks of real NZ cheese, are fast becoming a staple of the Aussie BBQ.
“We’re dipping our toe in the water,” Hellers Chief Executive John McWhirter says. Like the Kiwi sausage, Hellers is humble about its product offering but always stands by its quality and taste. “It’s really what differentiates us wherever we are and we believe we can compete with the world’s best,” says McWhirter.
It’s a small start but McWhirter says the move across the ditch could easily increase Hellers’ overall sales by 10%. “It’s a big step and we wanted to ensure we got it right, an important part of that is understanding the market.”
McWhirter says feedback from focus groups and product tastings in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne was invaluable. What it also reinforced was that Australian consumers have a high level of trust in New Zealand products.
That trust is well founded. This week Hellers won the pre-cooked category of the Devro Great New Zealand Sausage category with its Classic Saveloys. It’s the latest in a string of industry awards for Hellers over the past decade. Now Australia is seeing the company’s acumen.
The initial sausage sales are part of Hellers strategy to increase its footprint throughout Australasia under its well-known “NZ’s butcher” tagline.
“It’s a logical commercial step but we’ll do it without losing our core values and family roots,” McWhirter says.