Pic Picot talks peanuts, oil, and making NZ’s best selling peanut butter

Food Magazine recently caught up with Pic Picot, the founder of Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter to chat about his success both in New Zealand and Australia, new product launches, and how his product became the top selling peanut butter in New Zealand.

It was only six years ago that Picot decided to venture into the world of peanut butter manufacturing and since then, the company has gone from selling at local markets, to overtake Kraft as NZ’s top selling peanut butter.

“We are way, way ahead as the bestselling peanut butter in New Zealand now. We have 20 percent of the market here and the next bestselling, Kraft, is down about 14 percent, so we are way ahead of anyone else and it’s astonishing because it’s more expensive… I mean it’s twice the price of the really cheap stuff, it’s just been phenomenal.”

To complement his flagship peanut butter, Picot recently welcomed a premium, cold pressed peanut oil to his portfolio. The oil, which is made from food grade hi oleic peanuts, launched around three months ago in New Zealand, with an Australian release date soon to follow.

Picot says that in contrast to many other brands, his peanut oil is made from food grade peanuts.

“I hadn’t realised this but if some suppliers get peanuts that have suffered a bit of mould in the field, or if they have got alfatoxin in them, they simply turn them into oil. They just press and filter any nasties out so they can essentially use any peanuts to make ordinary peanut oil," he says.

Picot says that manufacturers of cold pressed oil must use food grade peanuts as the process doesn't allow the oil to be filtered. In addition, only the first 15 percent of the oil out of the nut is retained as the extraction process has a tendency to heat up the oil and risks "cooking" it.

Another thing that Picot pointed out was that the making of his peanut butter and the peanut oil are two completely separate processes.

“It’s a separate process to the oil. We actually bring the oil in from the peanut growers in Australia. We don’t make it ourselves, we import it and bottle it here. It comes from the same nut suppliers that we use for our peanut butter so they are hi oleic peanuts. The main difference to other brands is that the oil is cold pressed, and made from food grade nuts.

When asked about how he got to where he is today, Picot believes that honest enthusiasm and a great product was the key to his success.

“I think enthusiasm is unbeatable. Nothing can stand in the way of someone who is enthusiastic," he says. "I remember that my dad, who was one of the founders of what is now Woolworths in New Zealand, was just completely interested in everybody… And I think that is what happens, if you are enthusiastic about something, its unstoppable. And also, I love what I make.

“My aim now is to become the most loved peanut butter in the world. I don’t want to be the biggest selling, I’m happy for Kraft or Skippy to be the biggest selling, but to be the most loved peanut butter is the dream.”

As the company continues to get bigger, Picot says that innovation is one of the biggest challenges that the business faces.

“Continuing to innovate and to maintain that entrepreneurial (flair) is challenging,” he says.

“As the company gets bigger… it’s sort of harder to innovate and get new things happening. People are trying to make sure that everything is in place before we make another move, so you can sort of end up fiddling around for months and even years before you can introduce something new, but you’ve just got to take that plunge and leap in."

 

Australian food map to launch in August

The Australian Institute of Food and Science Technology (AIFST) and Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) have been working the past six months to develop a map of the Australian food industry (not including agriculture and retail).

The map will be split up into nine categories, including; associations, marketing, dairy services, equipment suppliers, ingredients, laboratory services and analytics, manufacturing, packing and packaging and training.

Visitor’s at this year’s AIFST Convention at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (June 22-25) will be given the first opportunity to see and interact with the map at AIFST’s stand.

The map will then be released in Food Australia magazine on 1 August, and online shortly after.

It is designed to provide the industry with an interactive way of connecting, networking and reaching out to a widened availability of services.

Business development manager at AIFST & Food Australia, Stefan Worsley said the map is designed to “create more cohesion in the industry.”

“You can go on and search or filter, let’s say a dairy person in Victoria, they can click and say ‘I only want to see dairy and I only want to see Victoria’ and then it will put up all the points and they can click on these points to get to the address, name telephone number and website,” Worsley said.

Worsley said along with acting as a resource to find local producers, the map will encourage overseas trade as well.

“There are going to be people across Asia that can access this as well and they can hopefully source products from Australia. You’ve got this really precise information which has been researched the past six months. It’s more the usability of it, if you can search and filter; it makes it a lot quicker to to find the information.”

 

24 Hours with SPC Ardmona

Bronwyn Powell, Marketing and Innovation Director at Australian fruit and vegetable processor, SPC Ardmona runs us through a day in the life of a food manufacturing professional. 

  1. What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job?  Give us a day in your working life.

No one day is the same!

Anything from discussing the strategy and execution of SPC Ardmona’s Marketing and Innovation plan, to developing new product concepts with the marketing team and R&D teams, to launching new advertising campaigns with one of our great external agencies.  

I am also a director on the company’s Executive Leadership team so everyday involves transforming the business across all facets to be a world class consumer led organisation.

  1. What training/education did you need for your job?

Bachelor of Commerce with a Marketing major from University of NSW

On job experience over 20+ years in Australia, USA, Europe, Internationally. I have lived in 4 countries and also worked across North America, Australia, Europe, Asia and South America.

  1. How did you get to where you are today?  Give us a bullet point career path.

 

  • Assistant Brand Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Senior Brand Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Director
  • Global Marketing Director
  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Marketing and Innovation Director

It is a classic blue chip global FMCG and QSR ladder I have to say. I have not deviated into agencies but instead stayed client side driving business growth through a number of organisations.

  1. What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?

My IPad and IPhone….inseparable! 

Twitter, Facebook – Pulse on Brands. 

 Reports on trends in market, shares and insights reports.

  1. What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
  • Starting at SPC Ardmona with a small team of dedicated marketers and food technologists.  Our whole team is so dedicated to us succeeding, now having consumers who love our brands and products and openly telling us on social media at #SPCSunday and SPCAustralia. They are life time disciples.
  • Achieving Global Marketing Director position leading strategy for KFC across 100 countries- living in the USA in the Deep South in Dallas Texas was an enormous life experience I have to say! Taught me allot about cultural differences around the world and how to market with that not against it.
  1. Biggest daily challenge?

Getting to the heart of the consumer insight… digging deeper and deeper for the killer insight and not stopping.

Time is always against us to get to market fast and to keep up with the ever changing consumer- so we need to be ahead on how they think, feel and behave.

  1. Biggest career challenge?

Category Barriers – over coming category barriers to packaged fruit.  Consumers see SPC as fruit in syrup when most of our products are in juice.  Goulburn Valley fruit is only currently in fruit juice and we will be launching it in coconut water in June this year further breaking down the barriers of our category. 

I have had category barriers before working for in fast food for KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s so it does not faze me, but rather drives me to find a way to break down this wall between our product and consumers perceptions.

  1. What is your biggest frustration in your job?

So much to do and not enough time to do it!

Agricultural based business lead times. Fruit has to grow and we rely on Mother Nature to do her work. We can’t speed it up.

  1. What is the biggest challenge facing your business?

Transformation through brands and innovation.

  1. Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?

I ask every Australian “have you looked at the back of all packs…turn them around and look for the country of origin.  Fruit and Vegetables need to stay being grown in Australia.  We owe it to our children to keep our food supply clean, green, wholesome and Australian grown and made.

If you would like to take part in Food mag's Industry Map, click here.

To read another Industry Map Q&A, click here.

 

 

24 hours with Pitango

Wade Gillooly, general manager at fresh chilled organic soups and meals brand, Pitango, runs us through a day in the life of a food manufacturing professional. 

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
Primarily I oversee the management of the Pitango business.  Day to day this involves managing the sales, financial and operational performance of the business including managing key distribution and customer relationships, product innovation, business planning and strategy for growth.  I also am responsible for the monthly reporting to the company Board of Directors.

What training/education did you need for your job?
I attended the Waikato University in New Zealand where I completed a Bachelor of Management Studies (B.M.S) with Honours.  My major was Commerce and Japanese.  I believe that tertiary education is a great stepping stone to start your career but the journey starts with gaining ‘on the job’ commercial experience.  This is where the real learning starts and never stops!

How did you get to where are you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.

  • 1994 graduated Waikato University (B.M.S)
  • First job as Marketing Graduate with Carter Hold Harvey (forestry and timber products)
  • 1995-2000 worked as Product Manager for Heinz-Watties.  This position was followed by several product and business management roles in the fresh produce and honey industries
  • 2008 joined Pitango

What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?
The main software system that I use is SAP for financial reporting.  I also utilise Excel and Power Point packages as well as various customer supplier portals for forecasting and inventory control.  However the main tool I use is the telephone!  Never underestimate the power of speaking one on one with a customer or supplier over sending an email.

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
I’m most proud of the growth of Pitango and the reputation we have built for the brand as a leader in organic, fresh chilled food. This couldn’t have happened without the great team of people that work for the business.

Biggest daily challenge?
It sounds like a cliché but it is letting go of work at the end of the day.  I am very passionate about Pitango but I am also a firm believer in work/life balance.  My family comes first, that is a given, but sometimes it is hard to turn the switch to off!  I find that exercise helps.

Biggest career challenge?
The single biggest challenge I have experienced to date in my career would be the transition to our new parent company following the collapse of our previous one.  In early 2013 our then parent company, Gourmet Foods Group, went into voluntary administration.  This resulted in the collapse of Rosella Food Groups.  My role was to keep Pitango running during the administration process and to successfully complete the sale of the business without interrupting our day to day trading.  The transition to our new parent company, Beak & Johnston is now complete.

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
I can’t say there are any frustrations right now other than finding time to have a holiday.  It’s that work/life balance again!

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
The biggest challenge would be operational capacity in our factory at the present time.  We are working on building a new plant that can support our growth plans with our customers.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
Food manufacturing and the FMCG sector is an industry that I love being part of.  It offers a lot of scope to develop careers and makes a valuable contribution to the economy.

 

If you would like to take part in Food mag's Industry Map, click here.

To read another Industry Map Q&A, click here.

 

24 hours with McCormick Foods Australia

Daniel Moorfield, managing director of McCormick Foods Australia takes Food Mag's Q&A and sheds some light on the joys and challenges of the world of flavour.

Name:
Daniel Moorfield

Company name:
McCormick Foods Australia

Title:
Managing director, McCormick Foods Australia/NZ

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.

My responsibilities include:

  • The safety and wellbeing of all McCormick staff
  • Making sure best practise approaches are used within all areas of the company, from manufacturing to packaging to HR
  • Maintaining the integrity and values of the McCormick brand
  • Ensuring we are a profitable, healthy company delivering innovative products the consumers need

In regards to a day in the life, the great thing about my role is that you are never quite sure what the day will bring. Within one day, I can be discussing new product innovations with our Test Kitchen, speaking with the production staff about the latest production run, meeting with the Asia Pacific president, visiting retail stores, discussing new innovations and reviewing our latest marketing campaign.

What training/education did you need for your job?
While my background in Finance has been important for my current role, it is just as important to have an array of generalist skills ranging from good communication to leadership to problem solving. And of course knowing the FMCG industry and understanding the consumer is vital to success.

How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.

  • Auditor with Ernst & Young
  • Various finance role within Mars Confectionery which was the beginning of 15 plus years in the FMCG space
  • Finance director at McCormick Foods Australia
  • Finance director for McCormick Foods China
  • Chief financial officer at SPC Ardmona
  • Managing director at McCormick Foods Australia

What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?
While financial literacy is certainly essential to my daily work life, the tools I value the most are communication tools.

Many companies have great strategies but they are not executed correctly. Part of my role is to ensure all employees know our company strategy and understand our vision. The only way to do this effectively is to communicate, communicate and, if in doubt, communicate some more.

The tools I use include regular face to face meetings with all areas of the company, the intranet and newsletters.

Listening is also an essential tool. I love seeing people develop and shine in their roles, so I try to spend as much time as I can listening and encouraging people, and helping them achieve their goals. It is also vital for us to understand the customer so we can deliver innovative products the consumer need and want.

Research is a great tool for supporting many decisions we make as a team.

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
I believe I am working toward that right now. Having the opportunity to take all of my learnings to date to lead my colleagues at McCormick Foods Australia to the next level is exciting.

As an innovative flavour company, we are well positioned to help our customers grow and that, in turn, will lead to growth for McCormick Foods Australia.

This is especially exciting as I was able to return to McCormick where I worked before in Finance in both Australia and in China.

Biggest daily challenge?
Consumer preferences continue to evolve and change daily. We need to stay on top of these changes in order to bring new products to the market successfully.

Biggest career challenge?
Moving from a professional speciality such as Finance to a managing director role has been my most enjoyable challenge to date. Honouring the responsibility I now have to McCormick Foods Australia staff, suppliers and customers is a career challenge I welcome.

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
My role is pretty simple – work out what the business frustrations are and then come up with solutions. So I tend not to get too frustrated about many things, instead I prefer to spend my time working out how to lessen others frustrations.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
There are two major challenges, which are both related. Firstly, the growth in the private label and secondly, the Australian dollar. I believe that in the long term, it will be in the interest of consumers, retailers, suppliers and the government to have a healthy food manufacturing base in Australia.

I think collaboration – among suppliers as well as between suppliers and retailers – will continue to increase as companies realise the need to share in sustainable profits. Given the concentration of retailers, I anticipate the same will occur among the supplier base, whether it is through mergers and acquisitions, joint-ventures or mutually beneficial alignments.

I also expect, and have started to see, retailers looking to work closer with suppliers. The ability to share information and better understand consumers has great potential and opportunity. This is especially important with the continued growth in private label.

Based on overseas experience, I also expect there will be continued growth in more mid-range/convenience stores, internet shopping, and continued growth in Aldi and Costco. All of these will make the grocery industry a very challenging, interesting and exciting place to be over the coming years.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
McCormick Foods is an Australian-based food manufacturer (a subsidiary of US-based McCormick & Company, Inc.).

As the global leader in flavour, McCormick Foods has an extensive range of convenient and innovative flavour products and solutions, including herbs and spices, recipe mix meal bases, marinades, sauces and gravies.

Customers include retail, foodservice and industrial customers.

In addition to McCormick, our family of brands includes the iconic Aeroplane Jelly and Keen’s Mustard and Curry, both of which are produced in Australia.

We are passionate about bringing together the art and science of flavour to help create memorable food experiences for Australians. This is also demonstrated through our annual Flavour Forecast report, which predicts future flavour trends and pairings.

Based in Melbourne, McCormick Foods Australia employs more than 200 people.

 

If you would like to take part in Food mag's Industry Map, click here.

To read another Industry Map Q&A, click here.

 

24 hours with The Right Food Group

Name: Anni Brownjohn

Company name:The Right Food Group Pty Ltd

Title: founder and president

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
From the foundation year of 1999 right through until today my primary role is to drive the vision of developing and manufacturing wonderful, delicious organic foods while all of us also have some fun.

As the company has grown, some wonderful people have come on board as members of "Team Organic" at The Right Food Group.

My day can start out with looking at new product ideas, then onto a management meeting, chat with a client, review of new machinery, discussions with new private label customers, review of marketing – and this may all be before lunch!

I've always seemed to have a lot of new ideas for great products and like to spend some time each day on these.

What training/education did you need for your job? 
Interestingly – I had none. Just a good idea and dedication to clean, healthy, organic food.

If I had undertaken any formal business training, there would be a good chance that I would never had taken the risk to start such an innovative food company.

In 1999 when I founded The Right Food Group, organic food was considered "hippy food". I well remember turning up to sell my products to a grocery store and the buyer being very surprised I had on a good suit!

How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.
Hmm, career path?? Not something I have ever given any thought to. I have been self-employed since my early 20s – initially in natural health care.

When I work out what my career is, I'll let you know my career path. Not sure there is such a thing for an organic entrepreneur!

What tools and/or sofware do you use on a daily basis?
My MacBook Air, Blackberry, and various software programs. Oh, and the largest computer I own, my brain.

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?

  • Still being in organic food manufacturing in Australia in 2013 and being profitable!
  • Surviving the GFC and creating full time jobs in a rural town.
  • Creating roles in my company where good people can grow their skills, improve their income and lift their level of professional training.
  • Giving those people the room to run with their own ideas.
  • Taking on the chair's role of the Tweed Business Advisory Board and using the position to push through some ideas to improve the regional economy.

Biggest daily challenge?
Keeping my many ideas for new products in some sort of order, then working out which ones are "real" and which ones go into the "later" file.

Plus – the internet. We are in a regional town and the net can be very slow. Roll on the NBN!

Biggest career challenge?
Attempting to keep my frustration with the organic certification industry in check. Some organic certification fees seem out of proportion with the service and add extra cost to the final product. Imported organic product do not pay these fees. The whole system disadvantages Australian organic food producers. I fail to understand why fees are not controlled by federal legislation.

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
There are a few items in my "biggest frustration" basket.
1. For a regional company, distribution can be a hassle. While we have product on shelf in every state in Australia, how it gets there is complicated and costly.
2. The "I am not interested" attitude to Australian food producers from the federal government! Honestly, why on earth is there no recognition of the following:

  • We need to eat as a nation (and I don't think locally made cars make a tasty meal no matter how much sauce you pour over them!)
  • The food industry is a massive employer! Many production plants are in regional towns which need the jobs to sustain the local economy.
  • We cannot compete with the dollar so high against imports – particularly those which are subsidised. Why is Australia the only sportsperson on the "level playing field?"

3. And of course I have a lot of new ideas for products and the development, certification, supply chain, manufacture, marketing and distribute process can be frustratingly long.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
High dollar, cheap imports, lack of federal government interest in sustaining a vibrant Australian food production industry.

Also, there's no domestic organic certification legislation which is enforceable under federal or state law. There are may products on Australian shelves claiming "organic". The only "organic" ingredient in some of these products is the name on the label. I have to compete with these cheats.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
I don't have a job – I have passion, drive and commitment. A passion for people, organic food, sustainable business and community.

My food which we create every day in our own factory is proof that the "career path" can be a journey. And all journeys start out with the desire to explore.

I continue to "explore" organic food (and have a heap of fun while doing it!)

 

If you would like to take part in Food mag's Industry Map, click here.

To read another Industry Map Q&A, click here.

 

24 hours with Whole Kids

Food magazine recently launched its Industry Map, where we ask food manufacturing professionals to shed light on the trials and tribulations of their work. Here, Monica Meldrum, founder of Whole Kids, takes our Q&A.

Name: Monica Meldrum

Company: Whole Kids

Title: Founder

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job?
I spend most of my time developing our products. To come up with a range that is totally additive-free and tastes great requires a lot of effort. I develop ideas and recipes at home and then work with a team of dieticians to ensure our products meet all the criteria for nutrition before sourcing organic ingredients and creating commercial samples that we can trial with children.

Kids’ taste profiles are very different from adults so part of my role is to work with our smallest customers to ensure that they really love a product before it gets the go-ahead.

Give us a day in your working life.
As a Mum of a three year old I need to be super organised. I’m up early and at the gym before waking up my daughter for breakfast, making lunches and doing the kinder drop off. As soon as I arrive at the office I meet with my team to set goals for the day and discuss what’s happening in the market and how we are tracking in achieving our weekly targets. The rest of my morning is spent making calls and following up with suppliers and customers.

Afternoons are for planning. Whether it’s product development, potential supply opportunities or reviewing Whole Kids' strategic plan, I dedicate time every afternoon to high level business planning.

As a small team we operate in a very dynamic and fast-paced environment. I have to be super organised to stay focused, so I segment my day to make sure I am giving my team the time that they need as well as allowing myself the space for thinking and planning.

What training/education did you need for your job?
I have a background in Communications with a Bachelor of Commerce and Marketing. I also have an MBA in International Management as well as a Master of Commercial Law. On top of that I am a fully accredited personal trainer/group fitness instructor, so I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition.

How did you get to where you are today?
After completing a Bachelor of Commerce and Marketing I travelled to Indonesia and established a business consulting to Australian companies. After three years I sold my business and returned to Australia where I held a string of positions with Goldman Sachs, Optus, Telecom NZ and Boral while also working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer.

After being chosen by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to lead a team of Australians to a North Sumatran village to deliver an aid project for the local children, I was inspired to do something that helped kids and promoted kids’ health, so in 2005, James and I started Whole Kids.

What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?
Becoming a Mum has made me even more passionate about creating healthier options for children. Every day I face the challenge of most parents in coming up with ideas for providing my daughter Chloe with a balanced diet, which feeds directly into my work at Whole Kids.

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
I’m proud of everything that Whole Kids has accomplished since it started, from winning the Emerging Entrepreneur Award at the 2013 NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards to creating quality products that make a difference to the health of children across the country.

One of best things we have done is establish One Per Cent For Our Kids, which is a non-profit that donates a percentage of our company’s revenue to fund projects to help improve kids’ health, their communities and their environment. So as our company grows and we sell more products, we can give more and more to help children in need.

Biggest daily challenge?
As we grow there are always new challenges but most recently, our resources were being drained by operational requirements of the business, such as warehousing and logistics, to the detriment of sales, marketing and product development.

After conducting a tender with third-party suppliers, we chose to outsource this part of our operation. This year we will automate the process further so that orders flow directly from our sales team to warehouse for immediate dispatch. It will enable us to establish warehousing in Perth and open up to the WA market. So from a real challenge, we have discovered opportunity.

Biggest career challenge?
My biggest career challenge was giving up the security of my corporate role to start Whole Kids. My experience in delivering aid to children living in poverty created the passion and drive in me to establish a business that would truly make a difference to children’s health. In doing so I have put everything into our business. It has taken a lot of hard work and persistence to come up with a range of products that are free from additives and meet the strict nutritional criteria that we have set. I am fortunate that I have the support of a team that are equally as passionate as I am and are driven to also create change. 

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
It's a highly competitive industry which can be frustrating at times, so we have to think smarter and act differently to get our voice heard so that parents know that there are healthier alternatives out there for their kids.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
Another key challenge is finding distributors who are passionate about our brand and values, so we feel they can best represent our products. We have invested in a great sales team that can service multiple channels, focus 100 percent on positioning our brand in-store, and build strong relationships with customers.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
My overarching job description is to make a difference to the health of Australian kids. The philosophy is simple; I believe in healthy kids and that the actions we take today can make a significant difference to our children’s future.

If you would like to take part in Food mag's Industry Map, click here.

To read another Industry Map Q&A, click here.

 

24 hours with Masterol Foods

Food magazine recently launched its Industry Map, where we ask food manufacturing professionals to shed light on the trials and tribulations of their work. Here, Nathan Cater, managing director at Masterol Foods, which manufactures and distributes vegetable oils, processing aids and ingredients, takes our Q&A.

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
I’ve done most of the jobs here at one time or another, from working in the warehouse and in production through to sales, marketing and product development. My role now is mostly of a managerial nature. I contribute to the overall direction of the company, particularly in terms of product development for the different market segments we engage with.

I also help to ensure that Masterol's R&D function interacts well with sales and marketing.

Because I have a broad understanding of the systems and the way information flows through Masterol, I also have the role of ‘problem solver’ – a hat which directors at many small and medium sized companies have to wear! These problems often revolve around our manufacturing operations, such as identifying the best way to transition to larger batch sizes when sales of a product increase.

Other things I do on a daily basis include discussing what we need from suppliers and how we can work more closely with them, addressing our customers’ needs and providing them with technical support and advice on our products and how they are best used.

What training/education did you need for your job?
I’ve been in the food industry my whole working life, so it’s all I know. With regards to education – I have formal training in chemistry, management and information technology, but have developed a strong understanding of the technology behind anti-sticking, glazing and release agent products by simply spending years working hands-on in the industry.

How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.

  • Graduated university in 1999
  • Worked in the food industry throughout my years at university
  • Established Masterol Foods in 2009 to capitalise on the knowledge I gained throughout my studying years.

What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?
Spreadsheets, spreadsheets and more spreadsheets. We have a database management system which handles most of our day-to-day activities with regards to logistics and manufacturing. It implements full traceability of all raw materials from receipt at our facilities to their use in finished products through to when the finished product is delivered to our customers.

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
The people I work with. Without their support and commitment to our company and our products, we’d be fighting a losing battle. I believe many companies don’t have the right people in key positions. This causes a myriad problems, the sources of which may appear difficult to spot even from the inside. In my opinion, the source is often right at the beginning – they failed to recruit the right people. I’m very proud of the people I work with and what we achieve together.

Biggest daily challenge?
Time management. It’s very easy for me to get immersed in the details of one particular project and forget about other things I’d planned to do on a given day. Without a high level of attention to detail, some of the products we’ve developed might never have come to be – it’s a matter of finding a balance between what you want to do and what you have to do.

Biggest career challenge?
Getting new products off the ground – it’s unbelievably difficult. No matter what you want to do, there is almost always someone out there who has a head start. That moment when everything aligns and things start to snowball – I think most people fall before they make it that far. This is a constant challenge – it’s not one you conquer and then move on from. With new products comes new knowledge, new experiences, new customers and suppliers, and so on. Managing all of these while trying to get a new product off the ground is pretty intense.

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
I believe doing business in Australia is very difficult. This is due to a range of factors – things like our relatively small market size and low population density through to industry dynamics including the concentration of power in the hands of a small number of large and powerful competitors in many industries. This means achieving the economies of scale necessary to take on the ‘big boys’ is always going to be difficult. There are plenty of other factors too, such as the way business is treated by both sides of government at all levels. Our business environment is highly regulated.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
Innovation. High exchange rates mean Australian manufacturers are having difficulty competing with imports and for the same reason it’s tough to get export business too. Exchange rates used to make local manufacturing more attractive because they helped to offset the high cost of production and the high cost of doing business in Australia, but that’s not the case today. This is why innovation is so important for Australian manufacturers. I don’t believe it’s possible to build a strong manufacturing business in Australia without a constant focus on innovation. Build a better mousetrap, as the saying goes.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
Being in business is more daunting than it looks. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. Despite that, I’m passionate about Australian manufacturing and in particular, the food industry and our contribution to it.

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24 hours with Byron Bay Cookie Company

Gordon Slater, chairman of Slater International, owner of Byron Bay Cookie Company takes Food mag's Q&A and sheds some light on the joys and challenges of running a food brand.

Name: Gordon Slater

Company name: Byron Bay Cookie Company (owned by Slater International)

Title: Chairman

How did you get first get involved with the brand?

"About 12 years ago I was looking around at different business opportunities and a friend of mine said I had to have a look at this one as there was a possibility of buying into what was originally the Byron Bay Cookie Company. I suppose one of the key deciders was when I took along some of the product to my lawyer with the contract and asked for him to take a look at it, after a while I noticed that he’d eaten a whole container of cookies and was looking for more, so I thought that was a good thing to go off!"

Do you have experience in the food or manufacturing industries?

"No, not really. I'm actually an orthopaedic surgeon, so I guess the main overlaps in those industries would be discipline and organisation of skills, and also minimisation of risk. In surgery that's one of the things that gets taught very well.

"In both industries you have to work well with people. When you're a doctor you're always speaking to people and explaining things and I think that's one of the things that business leaders do – they not only lead but they also teach… Whenever someone has interface with me, my expectation is that I would have taught them something in that interface every single time, so every time they turn around hopefully they've learned something from me."

What tools and/or software are you finding most useful at the moment?

"I'm no computer expert but one of the things that I'm looking at a lot now is social media, especially in terms of brand communication and also in terms of gathering information from our consumers.

"Previously a little business wouldn't have known who was buying its product, but now with social media you can interface with your customer directly and you can find out who they are, what they buy and so forth. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, we’re also active on LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.”

What's a moment that your most proud of in your career at Byron Bay Cookie Company?

"There's been so many. Most recently it would be launching the Anzac biscuit … We have a lot of decadent flavours and flavours that we've developed and put to market over the years, so to come up with a product that's an old family favourite was kind of fun.

"We started baking the Anzac in January and our product was launched on-board Qantas in February. So far the uptake has been amazing. The feedback on the product has just been fabulous.

"When we started selling to big players like Qantas and McDonalds, our organisation moved to the next level in terms of production scalability. When such big corporations come to us it’s always flattering as we obviously know about them and admire their business models, so we think 'This is fantastic' because they now recognise that we've reached a certain level in terms of our quality control and our ability to supply that they're comfortable buying from us. We recently launched six lines of Byron Bay Cookies in Woolworths supermarkets across the country and this another significant step for us in terms of our growth plan."

"Growing our international distribution is also on the cards and we've just gone through all the hoops and hurdles to get into Indonesia. The next step will be to send out our initial test product to them."

What's one of the big challenges facing the industry at the moment?

"There are enormous challenges in business at the moment. With the high Australian dollar, and without very much productivity growth all of a sudden we're not as competitive from an export point of view. As such we’re potentially looking at entering into joint ventures or turning up production if possible.”

"Payroll tax is another challenge – I was over in Europe recently and they laugh at our payroll tax. They say 'We want to employ people, we'll give you a grand if you will employ these people for us!' and we're kind of crazy in Australia – we're creating a situation where it's difficult to employ people. With the mining industry doing so well, it creates a whole lot of imbalances for the rest of manufacturing because the costs of getting somebody in are quite high.

"It's a good thing that people get paid fairly, but from a business point of view we also need to ensure we remain profitable. So for example, when we're thinking about launching into a new offshore environment I would like to use our local facilities to do that, but sometimes we might have to consider an offshore facility in order to get the right price point."

What's your next big goal for the brand?

"We've been named as an iconic Australian brand … and that to me is a sign of success, that we're known really well. So we'd like to take that notoriety and translate that into sales so that we're in every pantry in Australia, like Vegemite. That's a local challenge, but we'd also like that to be the case in Europe and the US so the brand is equally well known here as it is in those markets."

If you'd like to be part of Food mag's Industry Map Q&A, click here.

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24 hours with Bondi Chai

Bondi Chai's director, Melissa Edyvean takes Food mag's Q&A and sheds some light on the joys and challenges of running your own food brand.

Name: Melissa Edyvean

Company name: Karmer Pty Ltd

Title: Director

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
Day-to-Day management including: financial management; budget control; product supply management; logistics management. Everything else not specifically allocated to an employee or outsourced!

What training/education did you need for your job?
A Doctorate from the University of Life! Management software; graphic design software; financial control management (minimal formal education, mostly on-the-job)

How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.

  • Various casual jobs – several years
  • Office assistance
  • PR/marketing director
  • Graphic designer/publisher
  • Various casual jobs – 1 year
  • Company director/co-owner of own PR/Marketing consultancy – 4 years
  • Creator/co-owner Bondi Chai Latte – 7 years

What tools and/or sofware do you use on a daily basis?

  • MYOB
  • Excel
  • Outlook
  • Word
  • Google Chrome
  • Logistics management software

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
Guiding and creating (where necessary) every facet of a business from start-up to national and international success which continues to exceed our business and lifestyle goals

Biggest daily challenge?
Keeping on top of "growth pains" – meeting demand spurts; keeping debtors to a minimum; tracking down 'missing' product deliveries!

Biggest career challenge?
Expanding my skills, thinking, 'comfort zone' and energy capacity to stay ahead of a rapidly growing business.

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
People who don't do what they say they will (sometimes even in writing) – eg pay an invoice, delivering product to a promised schedule or buying our product.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
Rapid expansion on too many fronts.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
Every minute, every ounce of energy and every dollar I commit to our business (and there's been lots) has been – and continues to be – returned in spades. In other words, it's all worth it.

If you'd like to be part of Food mag's Industry Map Q&A, click here.

To read another Industry Map Q&A, click here


 

24 hours with Yummia

Yummia's founder, Mia McCarthy takes Food mag's Q&A and sheds some light on the joys and challenges of running your own food brand.

Name: Mia McCarthy

Company name: Yummia

Title: Sole trader

What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
At the moment I run all aspects of the business. There is no typical day, although I do try and follow a general weekly plan in order to ensure everything gets done through the week. Although every day I have to exercise. This is really important for my sanity and I find I often do my best problem-solving and planning when sweating it out at the gym.

I have listed a few things that happen each week:

  • Manage supplies. Keeping on top of inventory and stock.
  • Investigate new business opportunities, following through with contacts and industry leads.
  • Processing orders, reviewing and invoicing all orders that are placed from customers.
  • Production days – we have a few production days per week, which involve busy days at the factory preparing and packing orders ready for dispatch. Because it's a fresh product we can't have stock sitting around for a long time, so we have to be really on top of orders.
  • Business planning – at least each week I sit down, and look at the business growth up until now, what worked and what did not.
  • Research, research, research. I'm always looking at other businesses and taking advice and reviewing how we can implement successful strategies into Yummia.
  • Paper work – on any given day there is hours of papers to be filed, bills to be paid, money to be collected!!
  • Accounting

What training/education did you need for your job?
Well lots I'm sure, but I have none! I started this company at 21 in my final year of university studying BA Dip ED (Primary), so all my training and education I have learnt through experience and on the field. A lot of trial and error! It is these real life experiences that have shaped the businesswoman I am today, and the one I want to be in the future, so lots more experiences to be had!

How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path.

  • Graduated from High School in 2006.
  • Completed BA Dip ED (Primary Education) from Macquarie university in 2011.
  • I started Yummia in my final year of university study. After managing the two for a while, Yummia started to grow.

When I finished university I was able to invest in the business in a full time capacity. I initially made a personal investment of $10,000 into the business. I had saved this up through babysitting and working odd jobs throughout university. As the business has made more money we have re-invested this straight back into the business as well as a loan from my parents.

What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?
MYOB – this is by far the single most useful tool that my business uses. I received it as a birthday present because I could not afford it at the time and it's definitely been the best present I've ever received!

What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
Yummia as a whole, being quite young I have not had many 'professional' experiences, but I am extremely proud that I have created and built this company from the ground up. I stated off as a uni student with an idea. I receive an extreme sense of pride knowing that Yummia has been created from nothing. That makes me really happy! Although we're still only just over a year old, so hopefully there will be many more happy moments to come!!

Biggest daily challenge?
Cash flow with accounts receivable, I'm slowly learning that people don't like to pay bills and it's a constant battle to chase payments and keep on top of outstanding accounts!

Maintaining sales in shops and positive customer relationships. When I had just a few small shops I was able to really nurture this growth and sales. I developed really strong relationships with all my customers, as we grow the personal connection gets diluted and we become just another product on shelves.

Biggest career challenge?
Logistics and delivery. This is something I constantly battle with, and getting product into shops quick enough to maximise shelf life. We are in the process of implementing a few procedures that will greatly increase shelf life for delivery time!

What is your biggest frustration in your job?
People not doing what they say they will do. I'm constantly following up with suppliers and contracts to ensure that deadlines are met and standards are maintained.

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
All our products are quite new concepts to the breakfast market, we are not able to piggy-back off the category awareness that comes with other products. So educating the customers of our products.

Sustainable growth, meeting current demand and still having the capacity to greatly increase productivity.

Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
It's not as daunting as it looks. Compartmentalising different aspects of the business means the big picture does not overwhelm me or stop me from doing my job to the best of my abilities!

Click here to read more on Yummia's product range.

If you'd like to be part of Food mag's Industry Map Q&A, click here.