Bringing together the tropical flavours of the Pacific Islands, Ma’oi is a range of artisan jams and tropical fruit spreads handcrafted in pristine Poutasi, Samoa.
Poutasi is a village on the south-east coast of Upolu island, Samoa, which was devastated by the 2009 tsunami where nine members of the village lost their lives.
Inspired by the rich flavours of organic fruits found in Samoa, Cedric Holz created Ma’oi.
Born and raised in France, Cedric learned the art of making jams from his grandmother when he was five years old. Moving to Samoa, Cedric said he was amazed at the abundance, quality and unique taste of readily available tropical fruits.
“We have everything we need here in Samoa to produce high-quality boutique spreads that will provide jobs and put Samoa on the international food map.”
Employment opportunities in villages such as Poutasi are limited. The cost of a return bus fare to the capital, Apia, is the same as the daily wage, making it prohibitive for locals to make the daily commute to work there. Cedric saw Ma’oi as an opportunity to collaborate with the villagers of Poutasi and to build and share his knowledge with them. Ma’oi has set up a facility there. It is a true collaboration supported by Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, Matai (chief) of Poutasi.
“Cedric is a talented young man – he has a lot to offer. When you are gifted like that, you need to have the right environment to be creative … this is the environment we are building together here in Poutasi; our stories and our dreams are intertwined.
“Ma’oi provides employment opportunities for our village and all the raw ingredients are sourced from our farmers providing a significant boost to our small economy.
“A little jar of jam – the effort that goes into its production is enormous. We are at the start of the Ma’oi story and it excites me to see the flow-on effect it will have for Poutasi,” said Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale.
In September 2017, Ma’oi attended their first international trade fair as part of PTI Australia’s Pacific Showcase at Fine Food Australia. The four-day, trade-only event attracted international buyers and distributors in the food industry. Cedric attended the show with his chief spread maker, Eseta Mapusaga. It was Ms Mapusaga’s first trip out of Samoa, providing her with a valuable learning experience – especially to see the jams that she made at an international event.
“I was so proud to see our Ma’oi products that we made in Poutasi being tasted by people from across the world. It’s been an amazing experience. I’m thankful for PTI Australia’s help and I’m very proud that Ma’oi could represent Samoa at such a prestigious event,” Ms Mapusaga said.
Mona Mato, Export Services Manager at PTI Australia, said that Ma’oi have a real niche product that is on trend with the ‘real food movement’ occurring globally.
“At the trade event, there were numerous buyers who are looking for natural boutique products that have a point of difference, to appeal to the increasing market of health and socially conscious consumers. The Pacific Showcase at Fine Foods has been a great platform to raise awareness of Ma’oi with these buyers.”
Mr Holtz was extremely pleased with the trade show and said it has helped Ma’oi reach a captive buying market that they could not have achieved on their own.
“As a small venture, we really appreciate the opportunity the PTI Australia Pacific Showcase has provided us.
“To have this platform, to raise awareness of Ma’oi and the spreads grown and handcrafted in the Poutasi village in Samoa to an international buyer market, is something we couldn’t have done on our own.
“The reaction from buyers and distributors at Fine Food Australia has been extremely positive. They love the taste profile of our products and our packaging. It’s great to have confirmation that we are on the right track and can compete on the international market. We have gained a lot of leads from the trade show. Now the hard work begins as we follow up and look to sign our first international distributor,” Mona Mato said.