Aotearoa’s first quinoa growers Dan and Jacqui Cottrell of Kiwi Quinoa have a huge passion for farming, growing and marketing great produce which pushes them to continue developing their business.
Following extensive research and trials the Taihape couple became the first commercial producers of quinoa in New Zealand when they launched their product in 2016. Now, after championing the market and with more people recognising the quality of locally grown quinoa, they’re making it easier to find their product with high impact new packaging.
Kiwi Quinoa’s fresh new look is an attention-grabber – with a cheeky stylised Kiwi which clearly articulates that the quinoa is proudly grown in New Zealand.
Despite its challenges, an agriculture business for the couple was almost inevitable given their combined skills; Dan’s a farmer and Jacqui an agronomist with a passion for health food. Their Kiwi Quinoa journey began in 2012 on their OE. Dan and Jacqui travelled though South America when they recognised parts of Peru’s landscape looked like the Central Plateau where Dan’s family have farmed for four generations.
Jacqui says “We’d eaten so much quinoa on the Inca Trail. It’s one of the Bolivian and Peruvian people’s staple foods. This was where the idea of growing quinoa in the Rangitikei was born.”
The past few years developing Kiwi Quinoa have provided many trials for the pair, from crop failure to becoming marketers, educators and sales people – but they say they wouldn’t have it any other way. From an initial 2014 trial, they found the perfect quinoa variety that suited their high altitude, hill country farm and had a short growing season of 110 days which also suited the climate.
“Little did we know how much there was to the process from growing it to marketing it, all the way to getting it in front of customers. There’s been a lot of learning along the way,” Dan says.
Kiwi Quinoa is a wholegrain variety which is unprocessed and has not been polished. This preserves its nutritional benefits and its distinctive golden colour. Jacqui says it tastes different to other quinoa, “it has a mild nutty flavour (as it is saponin free), it has no bitter aftertaste that other quinoas often have. We’re big on taste; and food being delicious.”
Kiwi Quinoa is grown on rich volcanic soils using sustainable farming practice. It comes from Dan and Jacqui’s farm-saved seed and grows outdoors without irrigation. It is spray-free; with no herbicide, fungicide or pesticide used – a mixed cropping system and mechanical weed control make this possible. Growing quinoa integrates well with their livestock farming operation and is part of their regenerative approach to farming.
Kiwi Quinoa is gluten free and a great source of protein and fibre. It can be cooked as easily as rice. As well as being a great base for salads, which many cooks already recognise, quinoa is endlessly versatile and can be used in dishes like chocolate cake, muffins and tarts. Kiwi Quinoa has a great collection of recipes on its website.
“People are just figuring out what to do with quinoa, how to prepare it and what to include it in. That’s what Dan and I have identified as the biggest barrier, getting people to enjoy it on a weekly basis. We’re taking away the fear and letting people know how they would use it beyond just a salad,” Jacqui says.
Kiwi Quinoa has been recognised for the quality of its product, receiving accolades from the
country’s top food awards. In late October Kiwi Quinoa won the New Zealand Food Safety Primary Sector Products Award at the 2019 NZ Food Awards. This follows a Gold Medal at the 2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards earlier in the year.
Look out for Kiwi Quinoa’s distinctive new pack at New World supermarkets, Farro, Sabato,
Moore Wilson’s, Fresh Choice and all good food stores. The 400 gram pouch has an RRP of $7.99.