For eight years I have been working on all things Hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae) based because I love the fact the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) have greater in value in this species, providing a more effective and concentrated impact for a smaller amount of oil. Hoki is only found around the coast of New Zealand, and it is also a world first species on the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) stage for sustainability. Being environmentally conscious, this interested me, as well as the fact that the wild caught stock has doubled in size since it was certified.
Globally the population is growing exponentially, and everyone needs to be fed. Alongside this, the fish had given its life, so I feel strongly that nothing should be wasted. The way of harvesting fish has been changing, trawling is being replaced with a better ethical approach using the precision harvesting method, and hoki is one species that is already being harvested this way
I had these thoughts as I went through my journey with Rosie and learnt more about Hoki. It was a personal challenge to make a range of products that clearly utilised the whole fish with no waste thus honouring the fish, and not causing environmental wastage while enabling our fur babies to get top quality human grade products. After all, for generations, man has trialled and tested all sorts on our animals in order to evolve in the medical field, yet little has been given back, and they deserve respect and the fruits of their labours as humans receive theirs.
To date, our brand has the Hoki oil from the livers, the flesh freeze-dried in treat form, and now in a world first we are utilising the rest of the Hoki to make a wonderful gravy that is strong to the taste (to me it tastes like fresh mussels plucked from the sea). This has been only possible with collaboration with other companies and a good period of time to perfect the recipe. We continue to have products under development, and when the time is right, we will bring them to market. Every product we have brought to market to date has its own conception story, where a furbaby needed help and we were able to do so by designing and making a product for them that works to enhance the quality of their life.
Our gravy started with a call one day from my friend Mishael Logan:
“Help, please! My Roxy Diva is not eating – not even your oil (which she loved). She has hurt her leg and is in pain and is lame and needs TCL (torn cruciate ligament) surgery, but the vet has said she has to eat over the weekend to have the anaesthetic. She has lost 2kgs which is way too much for a little Swedish Vallhund right before surgery. Can you help to get her eating so we can do the surgery on Monday?”
So, I went to my little Hoki pantry and had a play with a few ingredients and dropped off a sample to her within a couple of hours of her phone call. Roxy Diva thought I was there to increase the pain and was not a happy camper, so I left pretty quickly and as I drove home all I got where wonderful text messages about how Roxy was eating and how thankful my friend was. Monday arrived, and the vet was able to perform the surgery, and Roxy recovered well with help from our Omega-i oil.
However, I had a problem I had made this incredible, very tasty product, but now I could help other fur babies, but the product was not in a state I could easily market. It had been a quick fix for Roxy, but I then needed to further refine the recipe to bring it to market. And so, the two-year process began, with everything from label design, to scaling up the product from pilot runs in the kitchen, to costing, to shelf stability and nutritional analysis all having to be covered off, not to mention funding it all on my own. Having already been through most of this process with my other products I had learnt some of the pitfalls and what to be aware of but that is a story for another time.
Finally, we launched Newflands Hoki Gravy on the 30th of October 2017 via email to our clients first, then at the Auckland Pet Expo the next day and giving people the opportunity to try the product for themselves after all you wouldn’t give your furbaby anything that was harmful and I wanted to prove our healthy products could make happy people.