Fiji’s Kava exports increased almost fivefold in under a decade, growth credited by Permanent Secretary Trade Shaheen Ali to the increasing global popularity of the Fijian commodity, driven by dedicated efforts of local exporters.
Earnings from kava exports alone grew from $8.8 million in 2015 to $40.7 million in 2024, and poised to increase further with renewed efforts to enter EU markets.
Ali says there is potential for kava exports to the EU markets. He highlighted the existing demand for Fijian Kava which is currently restricted to personal consignments largely because of the “complex (and at the moment prohibitive) EU Regulations”, pleading with the EU for assistance in three critical areas during a Fiji-EU Trade and Investment Forum’s workshop in Suva today.
“Our critical objective is to allow commercial exports of Kava into the European market,” Ali said.
“In terms of what the EU can do to assist… to help us in 3 key areas – enable our exporters to legally and commercially export Kava into EU Member States – we know that different rules may apply – however the Commission can assist significantly in clarifying any health or SPS/TBT concerns. Assist Fiji in adopting a robust national Kava Protection Laws, which will subsequently feed into Regional Kava protection framework and EU’s Regulations of Geographical Indicators – Kava needs to be classed as a Pacific GI and Yagona as a Fiji GI [and] assist in the promotion and marketing of Fiji Kava in the EU.”
He underscored the need to take advantage of the growing popularity of Fijian Kava among EU consumers by providing exporters with necessary guidance and resources, and position Fijian Kava as a premium, safe, and highly sought-after commodity in the European market, transitioning from a traditional beverage to a health and wellness product.
Ali also shared the success of Fiji Kava in other markets, drawing inspiration from the United States and Australia, where Fijian Kava has gained popularity. In the US, Kava bars have become social hubs whilst Australia is piloting commercial importation of Kava.
The workshop at the EU Office in Suva this afternoon was presided by EU Ambassador to the Pacific Barbara Plinkert, and attended by Head of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries Unit, Directorate-General for Trade Cristina Gozalvez, PHAMA Plus Country Manager Navitalai Tuivuniwai, and local kava export stakeholders.