Kiwi couple outlines global ambitions for allergen-free coconut yoghurt product

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

The coconuts used to produce the Raglan Coconut Yoghurt are grown without the use of fertilisers, sprays or pesticides, and the yoghurts are flavoured purely with fruit puree.
The coconuts used to produce the Raglan Coconut Yoghurt are grown without the use of fertilisers, sprays or pesticides, and the yoghurts are flavoured purely with fruit puree.

Related tags Yoghurt Probiotics Coconut dairy-free New zealand

New Zealand brand Raglan Coconut Yoghurt has embarked on its plans to export its flagship probiotic product globally, with Singapore as its first overseas market.

The dairy-free, vegan-friendly organic yoghurt is safe for not only lactose-intolerant consumers, but almost anyone with a food allergy or diabetes — it does not contain gluten, refined sugar, nuts or preservatives.

Furthermore, the coconuts used to produce the yoghurt are grown without the use of fertilisers, sprays or pesticides, and the yoghurts are flavoured purely with fruit puree.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia​, co-founder Tesh Randall said: "The product is highly probiotic — there are about 15 million CFUs per 100g of yoghurt, which is very high compared to other yoghurts.

"It's also high-fat and low-sugar, making it suitable for people on ketogenic or low-FODMAP diets."

Founded in 2014, the brand launched five of its flavours in Singapore at FairPrice Finest last month; the full range consists of seven flavours, each packaged 400ml in glass jars.

Spreading the culture

Randall said she first started making at home five years ago for her partner, Seb Walter, who is lactose-intolerant.

Using coconut cream instead of milk, she developed a recipe that she said was healthy and tasty at the same time, and began offering it to the locals in Raglan where the couple lives.

Word soon spread about the dairy-free coconut yoghurt, turning the homemade recipe into a commercially viable product.

Randall said: "The locals loved it and started telling shops about it, so word spread and (the product) took off. Before we knew it, Seb and I were making coconut yoghurt ​full-time.

"We hired some of my family members — my brother, sister and mum — and a lot of our friends to help us, and it's just been growing and growing.

"We're now the leading dairy-free yoghurt brand in New Zealand — there are about eight brands, and we're the biggest one. We have 24 staff, and our product is in about 500 stores across New Zealand right now.

"In the last year, we've started exporting to other countries, and that’s where Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia come in."

In the long term, Randall and Walter intend to go international with Raglan Coconut Yoghurt. Randall said interested parties have been emailing them from as far as Germany and the US, as well as Japan, and the next market they plan to enter is the US.

"There's a lot of interest there, and we also want to get into more stores in Singapore and Hong Kong, so more people would know who we are."

Production and practicality

The company oversees the entire production process — from growing the coconuts and fruits to formulating, producing and packaging the finished product — at its own factory in Raglan, and is currently building a second larger facility in the same town.

While it does intend to set up similar facilities in its export markets so the yoghurt will be fresher and can be sold in larger quantities, it is taking a more cautious approach.

Randall said: "We know it's not really practical to export large quantities of yoghurt​, especially since ours has a limited shelf life because we don't use any preservatives.

"But we want to test the different markets and see how much people like our product. If it goes well, we'd like to set up production facilities in the respective countries, which would make it much easier to supply the product in large quantities."

Environment and expansion

Environmental consciousness is also a priority for the brand, so much so that it led Randall and Walter to discontinue their range of single-serve yoghurt pouches.

Randall revealed: "We did have a single-serve pouch range, but we discontinued it because the pouches were plastic and we didn't want to contribute to environmental problems.

"We couldn't find a recyclable alternative as there wasn't anything compostable for chilled products. We want to stick to glass, and we will be looking at different-sized bottles and jars."

Raglan would also like to expand their product range eventually, but is content to focus on its existing format for now, with another two flavours to be introduced next year.

Randall said, "We have a lot of product ideas — even with yoghurt, there are different forms: drinking yoghurt, frozen yoghurt ​and dessert yoghurt​.  We've been looking at the different things we can do, but at the moment, we're pretty busy with our current range."

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