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Food and beverage stories

Man on a mission

Edition 200_Meredith_Yung

David Meredith is on a mission. He owns a collection of Hobart upmarket establishments – including the iconic Islington Hotel – and has now scored a coup for Tasmania in Hong Kong’s supermarkets.

Meredith has inked a deal to open a ‘Tasmanian mini store’ in one of Hong Kong’s biggest supermarket chains, with the first unveiling just days ago on November 8. This is an interactive moveable display showcasing, and selling, artisan Tasmanian food and beverage.

Even he admits it’s a “very big deal” for his company Tas’Mania, which has been exporting farm fresh Tasmanian produce, seafood and artisan beverages to Hong Kong for the past seven years.

Meredith’s name may not be widely known but his businesses certainly are. 

He is the co-owner of a collection of prestige establishments across Hobart.

Jewel in the crown is the luxury boutique Islington Hotel in Davey Street. The collection also includes The Glass House, an elegant restaurant and cocktail lounge on Hobart’s waterfront, and popular eatery, the Brooke Street Larder. Meredith also has shares in Tasmanian whisky producer, the White Label Distillery.

And, let’s not forget Tas’Mania.

To the outside observer it may seem a disparate group of businesses – but for Meredith it all works in perfect synergy.

“Tourism and trade are intrinsically linked,” Meredith explains.

“People in Hong Kong try the wonderful produce that we bring into the country, and they hear the stories behind them, and it makes them want to come and visit Tasmania.

“When they come here, they stay at the Islington Hotel, and can taste the beautiful Tasmanian food that we showcase in Hong Kong.”

Tas’Mania – which is the perfect fit for Meredith who divides his time between his home state of Tasmania and Hong Kong – flies weekly deliveries of fresh Tasmanian consumer goods to Hong Kong.

High-end supermarkets are the biggest customer, but the company also supplies restaurants and other food outlets.

“Each week we have about 1,500 – 2,000 kg of airfreight into Hong Kong,” Meredith explains.

“These are all retail packs of value-added Tasmania branded goods, which are ready to go straight on the supermarket shelf.”  

Tas’Mania’s basket of goodies is wide-ranging, and includes cherries, beetroot, truffles, honey, sea salt, juices, and seafood.

“Our biggest seafood is abalone by value, and smoked salmon by volume,” Meredith elaborates.

“In fact, Asia can’t get enough of our smoked salmon, and we export around two tonnes of Huon smoked salmon out of Tasmania each month.

“One tonne goes to Cathay Pacific – where it is served in business and first class – the other tonne mostly goes to supermarkets in Hong Kong.”

Now, in what Meredith describes as 'a first', Tas'Mania will be moving its Tasmania Bazaar - a Tasmanian mini-store - around PARKnSHOP supermarkets in Hong Kong. The first unveiling was just days ago drawing bumper crowds and media coverage.

“In the past our products have been spread throughout the supermarket, but now with this pop-up store everything is all in one place, and as far as I know, this has never been done before,” Meredith explains.

“We will be moving our mini-store between six supermarkets – all in high income areas – over the coming year.

“This is an interactive experience of Tasmania. Customers will see and sample the products, watch the videos, and learn the stories about where they came from.

“The mini-store will give them an experience of Tasmania, and we hope that by enjoying the product, it will also entice them to visit.”

While Meredith devotes much of his time organising the Tasmanian end of the business – keeping in constant contact with local producers – his Tas’Mania business partner, Calvin Yuen, is on the ground in Hong Kong.

And for Yuen, who is a self-described foodie and international wine judge, selling Tasmania to Hong Kong’s palates becomes easier by the year.

“A lot of people in Hong Kong know about Tasmania, and they hear about it more and more,” Yuen explains.

“And the number one thing they all know about is the food – especially the seafood.

“Tasmania is on television a lot these days. There are a lot of shows about the island, especially cooking shows where famous chefs have gone to Tasmania.

“The thing everyone here in Hong Kong loves about Tasmania is that it is clean, green and beautiful.”

While Tas’Mania has already made its mark in Hong Kong’s supermarkets, sights are now set further afield.

Heartened by his Hong Kong success, Meredith is finalising plans to expand Tas’mania’s reach into the supermarkets of mainland China early next year.

Another major coup, for a Tasmanian who has already made his mark.

Image courtesy of Martin Turmine

9 November 2018, Edition 200

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