Our speaker today was James Gray the  owner of Canary Enterprises. Canary Foods is a manufacturer of value added dairy products and aimed at export markets. Established in 2001 in Hamilton, Canary moved to a new factory in 2008 and have continued to expand. Their primary business is to take commodity unprocessed butter and turn it into fabulous food, for the food service and restaurant trades. 
 
As James said, they “Turn boring into Amazing”. Their initial business was making butter medallions at the rate of 10, 000 per day and they are now at 200,000 per day. The business takes 3,000 tonnes per annum of commodity butter and produces a range of innovative products from medallions to sheets, briks (sic) and ingots – all with specific requirements of the commercial and chef customers .  A big break through was getting an order from Thai Airways for butter medallions embossed with the Thai Airways logo in 2004. 
 
Airlines are big part of their clientele with Emirates taking 1,000,000 pieces every 8 weeks for their Business Class product. 
 
In 2012 the company added individual portion flavoured portions of butter (flavoured with mushroom, truffle, herbs, garlic and sun dried tomato, to name a few) and individual portions of cheese that have varying uses, from cheese and mince pies to stuffed chicken breasts.  New food service frozen cheese portions that are laser cut avoid chefs having to struggle with a camembert wheel to use slices of specialist cheeses. 
 
In 2013 the company established a joint venture with Lewis Road Creamery once they realized both companies were trying to make the world’s best retail butter. James hinted at a major product development with them and Lewis Road Creamery within the next 3-4 months that would be “eye-opening” – watch this space.
 
The company is 80-85% export and has won numerous awards over the years with a highlight being Exporter of The Year for companies with sales <$35m. 
 
New food safety requirements to be able to trace all ingredients to source have been absorbed but required a major investment in IT. 
 
James believes their success is a result of being fast and nimble on their feet and having a high level of customer intimacy – need for speed, innovate if commercially sensible and tailor for the customer. A new innovation is a butter lollipop – aimed at making it easier to smear butter on a juicy corn cob. 
 
They are currently aiming at business in Indonesia, doing more third party manufacturing and expanding their culinary range in Australia. James commented that China and the US are “work ons” – in other words very attractive but hard markets to crack. 
 
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