TONGA SEEKS VANILLA MARKET OPPORTUNITIES IN U.S.

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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (December 22, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Tonga's trade bureau, Tongatrade, is seeking market opportunities for dried vanilla beans with four spice companies in the United States.

It wants to get a better deal for Tongan vanilla growers who held back 40 tons of vanilla this year after a dramatic drop in prices for vanilla in the international market.

A Tongatrade officer, Saimone Vuki, estimates the consignment could be sold at 35 dollars a kilogram (2.2 pounds), fetching an estimated US$ 1.5 million.

Tongatrade is sending 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of vanilla this week to Belgium's largest chocolate manufacturer, Comptoir Pacific Company.

According to Vuki, the company will use the consignment to promote its new vanilla product from Tonga, before making further commitments with Tongan producers.

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