08/06/1999 - 22:00

Maria Chisari: selling local pasta to the world

08/06/1999 - 22:00

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PASTA has been enjoyed for centuries and by tradition, Italian people have consumed more than the rest of the world’s population put together. The picture is now changing.

Maria Chisari: selling local pasta to the world
PASTA has been enjoyed for centuries and by tradition, Italian people have consumed more than the rest of the world’s population put together. The picture is now changing.

“In the past, it was only eaten when you went to Italian restaurants. Fresh pasta wasn’t readily available in supermarkets and people were not skilled enough when cooking the sauces,” says Belmar Foods company secretary Mary Chisari.

Born in Malaysia, Ms Chisari came to Perth thirty-two years ago to study. She obtained degrees in accounting and business studies and worked for sixteen years in the mining industry. During this time she met and married her husband and joined him in the restaurant trade.

“I learned a lot about food preparation and production, which I put to good use when my husband decided to start a pasta and pizza manufacturing business,” she says.

“We first made pizzas for the local market, selling the line through Coles supermarkets. But within just a few months we were exporting pizzas to Singapore.

“About seven or eight months later we started experimenting with different fresh filled pasta for the local WA market.

“This was in 1983 and a time when people became more aware of our products and demand for this type of pasta increased.”

Belmar Foods is prepared to make pasta and sauces to a client’s particular recipe. The product can be made to any specification providing the quantity ordered is viable.

“We have just successfully marketed our products in Japan,” she said. “It is a difficult market but if you have perseverance, Japan can be a very profitable market.

“It has taken us three years, making visits and sending samples. Japanese clients also have visited our manufacturing operations.”

Ms Chisari said the Bunbury office of the WA Department of Commerce and Trade has been especially helpful, and it was mainly through the department that Belmar obtained a number of contacts in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

The department introduces prospective clients to Belmar and arranges for interested clients to visit the manufacturing plant. Visitors include international chefs, as many interested hotels have Italian restaurants or wish to include an Italian choice on a European menu.

“Generally the majority of the pasta we export is destined for the catering hospitality industry,” she said. “Our pasta is served in some of the finest restaurants in the South East Asia region, Bahrain and Japan.”

Belmar Foods now exports pasta to Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Bahrain. New Zealand is taking an interest and the domestic market is growing.

• This article is reprinted in part from the booklet Women in Business produced by the Department of Commerce and Trade. To obtain copies, phone Sandra Daly on 9327 5576.

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