Page 17 - Food&Drink Magazine May-June 2020
P. 17

While the Italians, Greeks and Spanish have been arguing about whose olive oil is the best, in recent years Portugal, Australia, the US and Croatia have been taking out top award honours.
And now, Random Harvest’s extra virgin olive oils from the New South Wales Hunter Valley region and truffles from Tasmania are blowing European consumers away.
“They already know about truffles from France or olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Italy, but not that much about what we produce in Australia.”
“What makes our products jump off the shelves in Harrods isn’t the label or that we’re Australian – it’s when people sample the products and appreciate how good they are.”
Jinks has a long history of enthusiastically promoting quality food products. He has worked in the industry since the late 1980s, from food distribution, export and trade marketing to senior management leading growth and retail stores on a national level.
Then in 2016, he bought Random Harvest and went hard at promoting boutique Australian food here and overseas.
“I bought it because it’s a beautiful premium Australian food brand with exclusive distribution and at the same time, came with extremely high consumer awareness, which is rare,” he says.
“Normally with an artisan brand part of what makes it specialcouldbethatit’ssmall
batch, but then there’s extremely poor awareness of it beyond a few stores.
“We knew Random Harvest was already a strong gourmet food brand – it’s built amazing awareness since it started in 1981 – and we wanted to build on that.”
Jinks says it’s vital small businesses, especially gourmet producers, are scrupulous about who they give their precious time to.
One networking tactic he learnt early in his career is just as effective today: make sure you have an interesting story to share and don’t waste it on just anybody.
He suggests pre-qualifying leads before setting up meetings, and only meeting with people who have proven success in the markets you want to target.
He’s heard too many stories from connections in the sector about supposed export ‘experts’ who didn’t deliver on the deals they promised. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen smaller producers get much love from government trade delegations either.
“The rhetoric from Austrade is that Australian food is popular all over the world, and it might be when people actually find it. But if you walk around the supermarkets in Europe or Asia, you’ll find bugger all Australian products,” notes Jinks.
“Obviously, meat and dairy get a big push, but when you see Austrade delegations head overseas with giant FMCG brands and no small brands, you wonder why. Those big guys could do it themselves anyway withoutgovernmenthelp.”
One advantage of investing your own money in an expansion play is that you can do it your way.
“We’ve resisted the urge to sell into supermarkets with discounts, which might work against us in some ways because we don’t have those volumes, but it does make us more attractive in the high end of the market.”
So, while Jinks’ successful pitch to Harrods was exciting, nerve-wracking even, it was patently true to their form of targeting and winning over upmarket buyers.
“We’re very strategic about keeping Random Harvest super premium, so whenever we’ve brainstormed who we want to sell to, we’ve gone for the top of the list,” Jinks explains.
Random Harvest was in David Jones first, then Peters of Kensington, Williams-Sonoma and Myer.
It’s also done well in airports and the corporate gifting market too, and regularly delivers to prestigious car brands such as Mercedes.
“Then we realised there aren’t many more opportunities for premium brands in Australia, so we started focusing on export
– and getting into Harrods was just massive,” says Jinks.
“I think if we’d made an equity play to grow our brand, we could have lifted our bottom and top lines very quickly and flipped the business in a heartbeat. But that’s not what we’re here for. It’s like a baby for us: a beautiful Australian familystory.” ✷
Decide if you want to be a
contract manufacturer for a big brand, which could mean scaling your production up to sell more units but at a lower price.
Or put in the hard yards to build
your own brand, which you might sell at a premium, but you’ll have to juggle many more partnerships and sort out distribution, marketing and everything else.
Network regularly – but be
decisive about who you talk with. Focus on building relationships with people who’ve proven they understand and value products like yours and can meet youraspirations.
1800 769 738
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