SUVA – The United States Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu Joseph Cella convened more than two dozen key figures in Fiji’s kava industry, including growers, processors, and government officials, to discuss ways to advance trade with the United States. The Fiji Forward Kava Workshop focused on what U.S. consumer want when it comes to kava and how U.S. technology can help Fijian companies meet that demand.
“Americans of all backgrounds have a growing interest for kava and kava-infused products,” Ambassador Cella said. “Americans are consuming kava the traditional Fijian way with bilo and tanoa and in modern cocktails and extracts. Today we discussed ways that Fijian kava producers can meet the demands of the United States market and finding new and creative opportunities to promote their products in sustainable and culturally respectful ways.”
U.S. based speakers on the panel included Dr. Karim Maredia, an agronomist from Michigan State University, who discussed how the school’s World Technology Access Program could assist Fijian yaqona growers. U.S. online kava dealer Laurent Olivier of kavadepot.com discussed what American kava consumers want. Tyler Blythe, CEO of the California-based Kavalytics, discussed technology that scientifically evaluates and grades kava. In addition, John Sanday of Kava Corp. discussed how he found U.S. buyers and how U.S.-made manufacturing equipment helped bring his business to a new level. Shaneel Nair, export adviser for Investment Fiji, introduced the assistance it can provide to potential exporters.
The United States is Fiji’s largest export market for kava. Fiji earned about FJ$32 million from kava exports last year with the United States accounting for two-thirds of all exports. There are an estimated 180 kava bars throughout the United States.