From Cambridge Farmers’ Market to New Zealand-wide success for FRUNEY


Lovingly handcrafted by the Reviakin family in Hamilton, FRUNEY is a confectionery company with a passion for creating fine chocolate, dragée, and fruit honey spreads. 

With just $1000 in their back pocket, Julia and husband Andrei established FRUNEY in 2019.

Yearning for a taste from their homeland Russia, they started making their own unique fruit honey blends, 

“We started with fruit honey which is quite a popular product in Russia but we hadn’t seen it here in New Zealand,” Julia says.

“Later, when we added chocolate to our range, we got instant feedback from customers, we saw that chocolate attracts people. I know that’s very obvious, but people love chocolate.”

Realising that chocolate is an excellent basis for creativity and the couple decided to add the much-loved confectionary to their product range.

“Chocolate is fun and beautiful and delicious, and we try to reflect it in our products,” she says.

The couple came to New Zealand four years ago, Andrei was studying for his third degree in strategic management at the University of Waikato and Julia was on maternity leave with their first child Ella.

Julia says they both have a strategic way of thinking.

“We create a plan, think twice and then try and see if it is what we expected.”

During September and October of 2019, the couple had created the concept of FRUNEY and the fruit honeys, by November they got their food certificate and were approved for the Cambridge Farmers’ Market in December.

“It was perfect timing for pre-Christmas shopping. I remember we had a busy markets schedule till the end of March 2020 and then Covid started.”

Ever optimistic, Julia says every crisis brings an opportunity. They quickly set about creating their website to try and stimulate sales, and in May their neighbour wrote an article about FRUNEY for the Seasons magazine. “I am not really sure if it was the article that worked for us or if it was something else but in June we started our wholesale journey,” she says.

“We tried as much as it was possible after the pandemic hit to be very active and participate in important events, and plan to be active in the future as well. You have to be a good manager, creative thinker, flexible and motivated, and have a ton of ambition to curate a business successfully in Covid period.”

They hit the Auckland Food Show, The Great NZ Food Show in Hamilton, Seriously Good Food Show in Tauranga, gift fairs in Auckland, the Chocolate and Coffee Show, Home and Garden show and more. “We are also part of the local Waikato Food Inc. It’s a community we love being a part of.” 

In May 2021, they won two medals at the Outstanding Food Producers Awards; the Ruby Chocolate, pistachios & Raspberries won a bronze medal and Passionfruit Honey won a silver medal.The chocolate-making journey hasn’t come without its trials and tribulation; before coming to New Zealand, Julia and Andrei owned a design plumbing showroom in Moscow, so the chocolate business was very new to them.YouTube became their tutor and lots of practice helped to refine their chocolate making techniques.

“We didn’t know how to temper chocolate and so on. We didn’t have special courses or special education but with lots of practice we became better and better.”

As well as the handcrafted chocolate, they added chocolate covered dragée to their product range.

“We use only the best ingredients we can find and try to use local ingredients when possible,” she says.

The Cambridge Farmers’ Market was the couple’s very first market and their very first sales took place there “Cambridge is a beautiful market in the fresh air, a beautiful location and people.”

They also travelled to the Hamilton, Tauranga and  the Auckland markets. The markets were a great place to gauge how the general public reacted to their products, Julia says.

“The markets are the best place to start, you can understand how people like your product, their tastes and needs, you can talk with customers and get a feedback, listen and clarify your thoughts. And the most important thing – you don’t need a lot of money for that.”

With the birth of their son, the couple have pared back their market trade but they now have 150 stockists across the country. Julia says the business has grown quickly but from time to time they have reached their production limits.“We are in a permanent process of how to improve our capacity. Hopefully we will continue to grow as fiercely as the last two and a half years.”

They are currently redesigning their packaging and adding new products, and Julia hopes it will be another step in FRUNEY’s growth.

For Easter they have three flavours of Easter egg shaped blocks; a Ruby chocolate with freeze dried raspberry, plum and cranberry, a milk chocolate with hazelnut dragée and chopped roasted hazelnuts, and a white chocolate with cookies and white chocolate crisps. “We are always thinking of adding new products to our usual range and new seasons.  We will create special Mother’s Day chocolate cards (bars) with a bespoke poem from New Zealand author Jessica Ulrichs.”

With Christmas being the busiest time of the year for confectionary companies, Julia says they will be updating their 2022 collection ready for the festive season.

“The Christmas collection is beautiful and contemporary. Our customers will love them, they are perfect as a complimentary gift or as a part of a gift box.”

The chocolate power couple are also in the planning stages of opening a store in Hamilton in 2023.

You can find FRUNEY confectionary in the Waikato at the Hamilton Beer and Wine Co, Country Providore, More than Flowers, Found, Little Mash, Home sweet Home, Leven, Flo & Frankie, Direct from the Market, Farmshop Gordonton, Morrinsville Gallery, VETRO, Bird Cage, Red Kitchen, Fabrik and the Flower Crate, and more.

Or visit them online at www.fruney.co.nz.


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