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PAPE‘ETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia (May 14, 2002, 2002 – Tahitipresse)---The Coca-Cola Company is introducing a new product called "Vanilla Coke."

For this new beverage, Coca-Cola will use 200 tons of genuine vanilla a year, which is about 10 percent of the annual world production.

Since a hurricane hit Madagascar, one of the main vanilla producers, a few years ago, vanilla prices have gone up more than 200 percent and they may go up again thanks to this unexpected Coca-Cola boost.

The food, cosmetic and perfume industries need this natural product.

French Polynesia has 300 vanilla producers. They mostly are in the Leeward Islands of Raiatea, Taha‘a and Huahine.

Although Coca-Cola does not purchase Tahitian vanilla (vanilla tahitensis), producers hope "Vanilla Coke" will boost vanilla production in French Polynesia.

In 2001, 5.9 tons of vanilla worth about US$ 1 million were exported from French Polynesia. There is quite a long way to recoup past levels since, in the 1960's, Tahiti exported as much as 200 tons.

Today, Indonesia produces 700 to 800 tons, and other countries --including the Comoro Islands, Tonga and Uganda -- still produce much more than French Polynesia.

Hubert Viaris de Lesegno, manager of the Tahitian brewery, which has the Coca-Cola franchise in French Polynesia, remains cautious.

"We have first of all to see how consumers in the United States perceive the new product. Then, we will see its consequences for Tahitian vanilla production," he said.

For additional reports from Tahiti Press, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources: Agence Tahitienne de Presse.



PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (May 15, 2002 - Tahitipresse/PINA Nius Online)---The cruise ship "Wind Song" has returned to Tahiti for 19 months of cruising in French Polynesian waters.

This arrival was like a homecoming, as the ship cruised in the Leeward Islands area (Huahine, Raiatea and Bora Bora) from 1987 to 1997.

During its previous stay, the ship’s 74 cabins welcomed about 7,000 passengers annually and had a 92% occupancy rate.

"Each year, the company was spending about US$ 4 million and I am confident that the 'Wind Song' will again be successful in Tahiti," French Polynesia's President Gaston Flosse said.

French Polynesia and the company that owns the ship signed an agreement in January. The agreement provides tax exemptions. In addition, French Polynesia is being "less demanding" on issues such as local employment, said Flosse.

Following the "Wind Song’s" 19 months in French Polynesia, a bigger ship from the Holland America Line, the "Wind Surf," will offer cruises in the territory.

The "Wind Surf" is the former "Club Med 1" and can carry 308 passengers.

The "Wind Song" homecoming pleases tourism officials and provides a fresh start to cruises in French Polynesia.

Meantime, the two former "Renaissance" cruise ships -- stranded in Pape‘ete Harbor since last September -- will be operated by a new company, "Princess Cruises." They will offer cruises again beginning in October.

Meanwhile, despite the tourism slump in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, the "Paul Gauguin" cruise ship has had good occupancy rates in recent months for cruises leaving from Pape‘ete.

For additional reports from Tahiti Press, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources: Agence Tahitienne de Presse.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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