Switi is a family and Vanuatu owned dairy (ice cream and yoghurt) manufacturer. The yoghurt production (La Ferme de Tagabé) started in 1974, by Nicole Dufus (born in Port-Vila) and Jean Dufus (born in France). The ice cream production started in 1982. Nicole Dufus got her training on how to make ice cream in Italy and currently all of their equipment comes from Italy because they are the best in small to medium scale ice cream manufacturing. However, we do not produce “gelato”, gelato is different again. That makes Switi, one of the oldest locally family owned food manufacturing business in Vanuatu with out of 4 children, 3 of them currently working in the business. Switi prides itself on sourcing local ingredients as much as they can (local fresh fruits for their sorbet and homemade yoghurts jams and ice cream coulis). Unfortunately there are no dairy farms in Vanuatu, so the milk comes from NZ in powder form. When they cannot find local they buy ingredients from the best: New Zealand, Australia, Italy and France. For instance, they put real cocoa and coffee in their Switi range ice cream not just flavouring. They use hydrogenated coconut oil as a binding ingredient and not animal fat which is firstly, healthier, and secondly in line with trying to be more sustainable and buying regional ingredients.
They are currently looking at developing their locally source ingredients by developing anew gourmet brand with local cocoa, local coffee, local vanilla for ice cream. They employ 30 people in the factory, 8men (drivers/deliverers, men to do the heavy lifting)the rest is women so about 73% of the staff is female and they have always proceeded like this, they have always privileged women work. Their packaging is unfortunately made of plastic, but it is hard to find another type of packaging that will safely and be hygienic enough for dairy products that need to sustain minus 30 degrees Celsius, and can become liquid once out of a freezer.
There are some cardboard packaging out there, but they are all aligned with a type of wax material that is definitely not bees’ wax but plastic and therefore creates waste as well. One of the way they then have to fight against plastic waste, is that their packaging is of very good quality. Meaning that their customers, instead of buying even more plastic containers to store their food or cereals, recycle their tubs and use them instead. They call it “Switiware” (as opposed to Tupperware).