The story of Pacific Resources International begins some four decades ago when a young man in America named David Noll was consumed by a hunger for adventure and traveled to far off New Zealand with a guitar in one hand and a surfboard under the other. Only 21 at the time, David could hardly know that his voyage to the other side of the world would change the course of his professional and personal life forever.

After just a few days in New Zealand, David met a beautiful Kiwi girl named Linda and what was originally intended to be a short visit led to a thirteen year stay that would not only include marriage but the birth of three of their eventual six children (and nine grandchildren – so far!).

As it turned out, David fell in love both with Linda and her native country, marveling at its natural splendor, untouched purity and passion for personal wellness. Back in California with his new family, David is 1987 founded Pacific Resources International.

Two years later, the company became the first to introduce Manuka Honey to the U.S., with David somehow anticipating just how globally marketable this very special gift from nature would be (today, Manuka Honey is a billion-dollar industry worldwide for cooking, as well as helping digestive issues and providing wound treatment).  

In addition to its continually-expanding range of Manuka Honey products, now including Caramels, Chocolates, Nuggets and Lozenges, PRI these days is also a leading importer of fine food, body care and health care products such as clean Pacific Sea Salt from such respected New Zealand family brands as Arataki, Nelsons Honey, Mossops Honey, Dominion Salt and many more.

Q + A with Pacific Resources International Founder & CEO David Noll

+ Did you have a particular health journey that led you to New Zealand and how did that journey shape your professional and personal life?

As a child, I had no less than 23 different allergies and asthma. Goat’s milk was the only liquid that was acceptable for a food. After months of antibiotics, I was headed for thick coke bottle type glasses and hearing aids at the age of five. The antibiotics were taking their toll.

Thankfully, my father Chuck was smart enough to think that there must be something better. He went on a mission searching for a way to help me. His investigation lead him into better nutrition by healthy eating at a time when health food stores were hard to find. He stared reading books and following the advice of early pioneers Carlton Federicks and Adel Davis. These two pioneers paved the way for my father to understand that with diet changes the antibiotic merry-go-round could finally stop spinning for me.

So the change started with what little was available in those early days of nutrition. Unpasteurized milk, 100% Stone Ground Wheat Bread, and 1000 mg of vitamin C 3 x a day. With a regular diet regime in place, my health began to improve and I was soon off the antibiotics with allergies diminishing as my Dad threw out all the white flour, white sugar and processed foods. By the age of 15, I overcame asthma, sinus headaches and most of the allergies that had plagued me for years.

+ How did PRI first get off the ground and how did you wind up being the first to import Manuka Honey from New Zealand to the States?

At the age of 21, the travel bug hit and I was off to New Zealand with a guitar in one hand and a surfboard under the other. After getting married and living in NZ for 13 years, I returned to California for a visit with my parents with three (healthy!) children. During the stay some experienced beekeeping friends from NZ asked for help getting their products into the US. I had no idea that it would lead to 30 + years of importing exclusive New Zealand products to the US and the addition of three more children.

In 1989, Pacific Resources International (PRI) was the first to introduce Manuka honey to the US; today, Manuka Honey is a billion dollar industry worldwide for helping digestive issues and providing would treatment. The health food industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the years but PRI still only works direct with NZ bee keeping families that take pride in producing high quality products. Pacific Sea Salt continues to be one of the only wind and sun dried sea salts with no additives and still contains all the natural trace elements. New Zealand continues to be a bread basket for the world for high quality products.

+ How well-informed (if at all) are American consumers about New Zealand-derived products?

In the beginning, very few knew about New Zealand and often confused it with Australia. Kiwi Fruit started the awareness, then the America’s Cup race when NZ took the cup there was more attention. But Lord of the Rings movies brought New Zealand to the world’s stage and now there are few that do not know about NZ and the great products that it produces.

+ How do your products help others?

Manuka Honey is renowned for its healing properties for digestive conditions and wound treatment. All the Honeys from NZ are 100% unprocessed and retain all the natural enzymes for good health. They are more than just a sweetener. Pacific Sea Salt is one of the only sea salts that is naturally dried so that all the trace elements are retained. This is a true Sea Salt not just Sodium Chloride taken from the sea. See attached article.

+ How do variations of Manuka Honey differ and how can consumers know when brands are making false claims about their honey’s origins, ingredients and potential benefits?

This is a tough one as there are a few that have their own labeling process that is not approved. They get away with it as they often pack their honey outside of NZ. We only deal with NZ bee keepers. Some that are in their 3rd generation. Published on every jar is the bee keeper’s address where the honey was packed and license number when required. Batch numbers are also applied that have back up COA (Certificate of Analysis) to show test results for proof in labeling. All of our honey brands are packed under the NZ government requirements.

+ Most people assume all salt is in some way bad for them. Please discuss why New Zealand sea salt is superior and why American consumers should make it a part of their regular diet?

The short answer is that most sea salts are just sodium chloride extracted from the ocean with no trace elements. Sodium Chloride alone is dangerous for the body. Just check out the ingredient list on the so called sea salts. The anti-caking and free flowing agents, yellow dye and dextrose compound the dangers. An easy way to think about is that refined sodium chloride is as bad for you as refined white sugar. Natural evaporated cane juice is just like unrefined Pacific Sea Salt still containing the natural trace elements that the body can utilize naturally.

+ Though your products are especially appealing to health-conscious consumers, I would imagine you’d suggest that just about everyone use them at least occasionally. Please discuss how PRI’s various products are winning over mainstream consumers who aren’t necessarily the typical Whole Foods-type shopper

With skyrocketing health insurance costs, more and more people are researching healthier diets and remedies to stay healthy and have quality of life in their golden years. There is no real secret about the qualities of these products. They are simply harvested in their natural form just how nature intended us to enjoy them for a healthy lifestyle. Just have a look at Organic product sales over the last three years. New Zealand is blessed to have one of the last clean environments left today to produce high quality products.

+ What's the best decision you've made in the 30 past years

Wow, from a business perspective, to keep family in the business so I can not only enjoy my children at work but also the grandchildren. I have a saying that was handed down to me: “A family that can work together stays together.” Not always easy but it helps builds character. We also made the decision together to help the handicapped so we have become part of a federal program that enable us to help others find their place in the workforce. Everyone has a gift that only they can contribute to make our society whole.

+ Where can people find your products if they want to learn more about them or if they are interested in purchasing them?

For the best information, please visit our website at www.shoppri.com