PIERRE Issa, owner of boutique dairy company Pepe Saya, hopes to butter up overseas markets after landing his produce in Qantas' first and business class cabins and on the tables of celebrity chefs. Mr Issa, who founded Pepe Saya four years ago, has fielded inquiries from Japan, North America and Europe, prompting the development of an export plan. However, expansion will be difficult. And it's not because of plummeting world dairy prices, which have more than halved in the past 12 months. Mr Issa and 22 staff at his factory in Sydney's inner west hand churn about five tonnes of butter a week, targeting the premium end of the market. He said this largely insulated the company from market downturns, but made its butter expensive to produce. "When you start look at us doubling our production...it's not as simple as putting on another machine. You have got to put on labour, which is where the cost is," Mr Issa said. "It is very expensive to make these sorts of products in Australia and that sort of explains how the cheese industry hasn't done that well, or any aged cheeses [industry] hasn't done that well, because people just won't commit the money to it." However, Mr Issa is confident he can reach his 2018 export target, citing an increasing appetite for his product. Pepe Saya has prospered since humble beginnings in which Mr Issa "dumped everything we had into this company just to get it off the ground". "The labour killed us. We were working 45 per cent labour costs for the first three years until we got the scale," he said. Then there was the battle to win over chefs, who told Mr Issa "who are you for me to put you on my menu, even if your butter tastes pretty good"? "They just wouldn't put you on," Mr Issa said. "It was very hard to get in with the chefs and even meetings to see them to get them to taste your product. It wasn't until the second year that we actually got some traction with the restaurants and that's where it just snowballed." Restaurants and other commercial customers make up close to 75 per cent of Pepe Saya's revenue. Customers include Neil Perry's Rockpool restaurants, which has helped land Pepe Saya on Qantas, and Matt Moran's ARIA. "Last year to this year, we have doubled production, and next year we are anticipating about a 75 per cent rise in production," Mr Issa said. It has experimented with exports, sending products to several resorts in the Maldives. Although Mr Issa hopes to ship up to 30 per cent of his products overseas by 2018, he is taking his time to choose which markets he will target. "We see Japan as a big market for us. We get a lot of inquiries from Asia in general, China, Hong Kong...Singapore, and we get a lot from [South] Korea. "And all the western countries, America, Canada and Europe, where we get inquiries from from individuals rather than distributors. "But finding the right working partner will be what we are looking for."