“Transitioning from a homegrown success story to a new international market is challenging for most companies. Add to that the combination of a pandemic, an industry under scrutiny, and a highly vulnerable customer base – now there’s a challenge.

“My answer to anyone starting a business is to keep the product as the team’s primary focus, the advice we have held to when launching into this new market.”

Sam Bridgewater, founder of Pure Food Co.

Sam Bridgewater and Maia Royal founded The Pure Food Co in 2014 after witnessing his stepfather, Mark, struggle with food and nutrition while battling a major illness at an aged care facility. 

Sam felt that there had to be a better way to provide appropriate food for seniors or those suffering illnesses that combined taste and nutrition. He undertook extensive research and development to innovate a solution that combined higher levels of essential nutrients into beautiful meals and other snacks. 

And so Sam and his colleague were inspired to create a meal system that provided not only optimal nutrition but also good flavour and diversity to encourage seniors to continue eating enough volume. So at 28 years old, the team set out to solve that issue; that’s how The Pure Food Co was born in 2014 — an innovative food system tailored to the nutritional needs of seniors. Following significant growth and recognition within the NZ market, The Pure Food Co has launched in Australia, partnering with several sizeable aged care groups. 

The Pure Food Co offers pre-shaped food products presented in an engaging way to provide visually appealing, extremely nutritional pureed foods. Their product line also includes purees, designed for simple swallowing and created with the best local ingredients, all with protein as a vital component to help seniors with muscle maintenance and repair.

“Coming from backgrounds in banking and management consulting, it’s safe to say that my co-founder and I have had plenty of learnings – some the hard way! Food production and the complexities of this were very new territory for us, and ensuring that the food solution we were offering not only addressed the nutrition and taste problems we’d identified but was also economically sustainable for our customers was a key challenge we had to face from the outset. 

“Our solution not only had to compete with tight food budgets but deliver value well beyond this to get into networks and stay long term. Equally, we were doing very new territory from a market perspective. Fortifying foods the way we do wasn’t a ‘thing’ at the time, so we took a gamble, and it paid off; this was a critical turning point for us in creating true innovation. 

The early days

“Initially, our approach focused on the healthcare space, and we are now partnered with almost all of New Zealand’s public hospitals. More recently, we’ve seen massive growth in the aged care sector, aligning with our mission to nourish the world’s seniors. 

“After starting production within a food innovation incubator in 2017, we built our production plant in Mt Wellington, which provided the scale we needed to fuel rapid growth. We entered the Australian market in 2019 and, despite the challenges of a pandemic soon after, have seen a significant impact with the business quintupling over the past year. 

“At present, we deliver around 3 million food experiences annually across these two markets, and we’re proud to be a multi-award-winning company with multi-award-winning innovations, most notably three-time category-winner of The New Zealand Food Awards including Supreme Winner in 2019, as well as The Deloitte Fast 50. 

Sam notes that gathering insight from important stakeholders was a vital technique for them from the start. 

“Engagement with Dietitians, Speech Pathologists, Operators (healthcare and elderly care), and, of course, the people who would consume our meals was critical during the research and product development phases. Because we invested heavily in researching with our relevant audience, we came to market with a product that delivered on the value propositions they wanted and needed, as well as the elements they didn’t know they needed but now love! 

Conducting product assessment: Knowing what the customer wants

Sam insists that getting the product right has, without a doubt, been essential to their marketing strategy. 

“If those foundations aren’t in place, there’s no opportunity to grow when customers need to see a positive outcome to justify the investment. As a result, the organic referral has been the biggest driver of growth for us since the beginning—kitchens and clinical teams that use the product move around providers and bring us with them. 

“We’ve constantly agitated for awareness and representation of the nutritional needs of seniors and, in recent years, haven’t been afraid to call out the problem. Recently, we’ve been looking closely at our social media approach as another avenue to drive customer leads, with LinkedIn being one of our priority channels. 

“We see this route as a great way to engage with not only operators that could directly become customers but also to increase overall consideration of the issue of senior nutrition. For example, we’ve recently launched a campaign on our social media channels aligning with notable Australian athletes to highlight the similarities in nutrition requirements between athletes and seniors and to tap into these athletes’ audiences to raise consideration of ageing nutrition amongst younger generations. 

“We conducted some research alongside the campaign, which found that despite health and wellness being a huge priority for the everyday Australian, very few had considered how this could look in later life, and changing this is a theme we’ll be looking at across the board when it comes to our marketing.”

When it comes to learning, Sam says that he has been caught in the trap of trying to do too much at one time in the past, which resulted in them getting laser-focused on key strategic priorities to grow the offering and the customer base in a way that’s aligned with their overarching mission. 

“We still consider the day-to-day signing of a new customer or network as a significant moment; it’s a huge responsibility to implement a food system for residents and businesses and something that we don’t take lightly. 

“From our own first-hand experiences, we know just how important doing this the right way is for these residents and their families, so we never underestimate the task at hand.” 

Successfully launching into a new market 

“The Pure Food Co was inspired by a problem we identified on a personal and societal level. Put simply, no solution provides seniors with tasty, easy to eat and adequately nutritious foods while meeting the tight budgets of the public health system. Hailing from New Zealand, our focus naturally started there and saw us grow to a scale where we are implemented across nearly every public hospital and 100% of sizeable aged care networks. 

“However, the challenge is global, so in 2019 we began to launch into the Australian market. Throw a global pandemic in the mix, and you’ll see why it’s only now, in 2022, that we’re ready to talk about successfully launching into this market. 

“The Australian aged care sector is complex and highly scrutinised. With 50% of people entering senior care classified as malnourished in this country, it’s also an industry needing help. We saw an opportunity to meet the need that we had answered in New Zealand in this new market.” 

Lead with product 

Sam says his answer to anyone starting a business is to keep the product as the team’s primary focus, the advice we have held to when launching into this new market. 

“We needed to prove not only the efficacy of our product but also the affordability (working to tight budgets where many aged care facilities are required to feed their residents on around $12 a day, and often less) and practicality of our offering. In an industry already struggling to retain sufficient staffing, we need to provide a solution that makes carers’ lives easier, not harder. 

“The most important part of any product?”

“Ensuring it can get into the hands of those who need it. Key learning through the pandemic and beyond has been to ensure that we were clear, careful, and on the borderline of conservative regarding our supply chain to ensure product availability at all times. The trust operators place in us to implement their food systems is immense, and once this trust is broken, it would be extremely challenging to rebuild – regardless of the business you’re building.” 

“An organic referral is a huge driver of business growth and for many businesses looking to expand,” Sam continues.

“Investing in a dedicated Country Manager that can engage directly with potential and current customers was crucial when it came to growing our presence in this new market, supported by ab diverse and highly skilled team focused on continuous improvement. 

“Remaining nimble and evolving how you communicate your business’s offering can make all the difference when changes to the macro environment arise. It’s no surprise that the pandemic has devastated the aged care sector and the priorities these already stretched teams are juggling. In our case, we saw that health was more important than ever across the board, and people considered the role diet plays in their wellbeing. 

“However, labour shortages meant our potential customers would not consider solutions that were difficult to implement. Communicating the benefit of our pre-packaged solution became an important message with the skills shortage in mind. When testing the waters in a new market, finding new and different ways to engage with your audience is vital. 

“While our core focus is aged care and hospital environments, speaking to a secondary market of those with loved ones in such facilities and pushing them to advocate for the seniors in their life is proving fruitful. 

“We recently launched a campaign across our social channels that focus on heroing the #grandfluencer in your life (the significant senior that’s made a difference for you); it’s a step in the right direction of getting these younger audience groups to consider the conversation of senior nutrition., and start to understand the realities of senior nutrition. 

“Overall, whether launching into a new market or driving growth in an existing territory, being able to measure success, improve conversion, and reduce any risk associated with implementing your product are crucial in driving success. There may not always be a pandemic creating challenges for your global expansion, but there’s sure to be a curveball around the corner, so prepare accordingly.”

More on The Pure Foods co here.

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

There’s no denying that big and small businesses need to employ some technologies for their financial operations, given the difficulties that organisations face today and the requirement for flexibility and efficiency.

But which option is better for your company? What qualities should a fintech tool have?

In this week’s Let’s Talk, we go over the important factors that our experts consider when selecting a financial tool or app for their business.

Let’s Talk.

Discover Other Let’s Talk Business Topics

Join Our Contributors

Sam Kothari, Head of Growth ANZ, Airwallex

Sam Kothari, Head of Growth ANZ, Airwallex

“Choosing a fintech partner can be overwhelming. The risk of wasting time and money on solutions that aren’t quite right, can mean you stick with the status quo. The secret to finding the right fintech solution for your business is in the prep.

“Start by asking what problem am I looking to solve? Do you need a partner for payments, obtaining capital, regulatory obligations, or managing the books? Clarity upfront will help avoid any overlap or incompatibility, and your team can be a helpful resource to identify priority pain points.

“When selecting a partner, businesses often overlook the time and resource commitment needed to get the service up and running. Factor in that your team may need training, or the solution may need time to integrate into your tech stack. Expecting efficiencies overnight will lead to disappointment. Instead, ensure you know what’s required at the outset, as well as the customer support available.

“Most importantly, your partner must be able to grow with you. Consider what support you’ll need in the future and whether your chosen fintech partner can meet these needs.”

Michelle Kvello, Founder, Lantern Partners

Michelle Kvello
Michelle Kvello, Founder, Lantern Partners

“The real key to finding the right fintech tools for your business is to start by identifying the key finance processes that you want to automate.  Too often I find businesses start with the tool or app itself, without understanding the processes first and that can lead to even greater inefficiency and frustration that really isn’t the fault of the tool they picked! 

“Once you have clarified the processes then pick the cornerstone fintech tool you need in the business, usually the tool or platform that underpins your general ledger.  It’s the foundation you build your fintech stack on.  Ideally all your other fintech tools should integrate with that primary technology tool and that’s how you get real efficiency. 

“Finally, I think there has to be an understanding that there is always a tradeoff between flexibility and useability.  The more flexible a tool is the more difficult it is to manage and vice versa if it is easy to manage it may not have 100 per cent of the functionality you ideally want.”

Benjamin Yeo, Chairman of the National Corporate Finance Committee, Moore Australia

Benjamin Yeo
Benjamin Yeo, Chairman of the National Corporate Finance Committee, Moore Australia

“With a vast array of fintech companies in the market, it can be overwhelming for business owners to research and then decide which fintech is most suitable for their business. My advice, having just been a judge for the Finnies 2022, the most recognized awards that celebrates the success of the Australian fintech industry, is to log into the FinTech Australia website. The FinTech Australia website provides a wealth of information on Australia (and international) fintech companies, along with Industry Reports and a Services Directory which greatly assist businesses identify the most suitable fintech/app for their requirements.”

Alex Pasminka, Chief Marketing Officer, Shift

Alex Pasminka, Chief Marketing Officer, Shift

“Always start with research. When running a business and squeezed for time it can seem easy to go with the first option you find. That can end with frustration if it doesn’t fit your business, isn’t flexible or is going to cost you more in time than it’ll save in money.

“If you’re looking for a tech-driven financial provider, make sure it integrates with your systems and cashflow needs. Nothing beats word of mouth, so ask around your circle of business colleagues to get opinions of the tools they use.

“Questions to ask your network, and yourself, include: Is it easy to use? Does it suit my exact business needs? Is it flexible, i.e. if it’s a financial solution can I change my payment schedule or the product I’m using? Will it make my customers’ lives easier? Is there a real person I can contact for support?

“The wrong tools can slow you down. The right tools can become real sales enablers for you and have a flow-on effect for your trade customers and – ultimately – your cashflow.”

Daniel West, Chief Sales and Support Officer, MYOB

Daniel West
Daniel West, Chief Sales and Support Officer, MYOB

“In an increasingly data-driven business landscape, using the right digital apps is crucial for sustainability, growth and ongoing success. Business management tools should not only support your existing operational tasks, but be scalable to make sure you’re covered for future technology needs aligned to your long-term goals. Look for tools that can truly support your needs and provide you with real-time insight into your business. I’d recommend businesses:

  • Opt for cloud-based solutions so you access your business data on any device and from anywhere – an invaluable advantage in a competitive, fast-paced business environment.
  • Choose tools where you pay only for what you really need – so you’re not wasting money on apps where you use only a handful of their available features.
  • Weigh up your business needs against the app’s capabilities and do your research to see if you could perhaps consolidate to save overall subscription costs – for example go with one more advanced tool in place of three others.
  • Check if your chosen tools can properly integrate with each other to avoid experiencing digital disconnection, and ensure the software provider is aware of any potential integration problems and are addressing these head on.”

Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAc, Oracle

Callan Mantell
Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAc, Oracle

“When you think about the construction industry, the image of the Sydney Opera House, or The Beehive might pop into your mind. Your first thought is probably not fintech. However, the builders and head contractors who deliver these iconic projects – and our homes, data centers, warehouses, and everything else, do need to think about how technology can be deployed to dramatically improve their back-office processes.

“Many builders have made great strides in efficiency and innovation at the job site with technologies like the Internet of Things, reality capture, drones, and autonomous vehicles. Even more efficiency gains can be had by automating and streamlining the progress claim and payment processes.

“Cloud-based collaborative claim and payment management solutions can boost efficiency and reduce risk across the entire process. And by supporting compliance with the Security of Payments (SoP) or Construction Contracts (CC) Acts, they help ensure everyone is paid fairly and on time.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President and Vice President of Small and Medium Businesses, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President and Vice President of Small and Medium Businesses, Salesforce

“There’s more choice than ever when it comes to fintech tools, providing small-to-medium-sized businesses with greater access to the financial instruments they need to realise their growth ambitions. For example, the days of visiting the local bank manager at a brick-and-mortar store have given way to online financial institutions running on state-of-the-art technology backends.

Sixty-six per cent of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and only 27 per cent feel that financial institutions provide great service and support. As such, it’s crucial to choose a fintech provider that can tailor to your small business’ circumstances and customers. Prospa, for example, allows small businesses to apply for loans of up to $250,000 using a simple online application running on Salesforce Service Cloud. After a quick credit check, in many cases, business owners receive their funding in 24 hours.

“Powered by Salesforce, these options are possible with Prospa’s sophisticated use of data insights to create a single view of the customer.

“Given the competitive fintech landscape, small businesses need to choose providers powered by sophisticated technology to ensure the benefits of a 360 customer view can be implemented for more personalised services.”

Anny Le Wilson, Chief Revenue Officer, Joust

Anny Le Wilson
Anny Le Wilson, Chief Revenue Officer, Joust

“Fintechs are often all painted with the same brush based on the misconception that a fintech can be a one stop shop for all parts of your business. This is simply not true. Businesses are complex and there will be different solutions required for different business goals and outcomes. It’s important to select the right fintech partner for different parts of your business, this can range from the payment processors, to the KYC process, to payroll and project management, all the way through to marketing and sales. The tools required for a fintech should be very dependent on the key objectives and outcomes the business is aiming to achieve. When the objectives and outcomes are clearly defined, choosing the right set of tools becomes easier.

“For businesses that are transitioning to digital models, a digital customer acquisition strategy is important for managing the sales pipeline and maintaining a sustainable business model.

“The majority of Aussies are now accustomed to the benefits of digital connectivity to get business done.

“Using digital channels to drive customer acquisition means that you are connecting with people who are already looking for your services. Digital marketing channels have the capability to drive significant flows through a business, delivering a stream of quality customers on a consistent basis. If managed properly, these customers can multiply based on other products they may be in the market for or by providing referral and advocacy for your business.

“Finding the right fintech partner for digital distribution, and customer targeting, is an important part of scaling your business. The true value of digital customer acquisition is unlocked when businesses make an ongoing commitment and integrate it into their workflow.”

Paul Byrne, CEO, Zai

Paul Byrne
Paul Byrne, CEO, Zai

“One service that all businesses should be asking their payment providers about right now is PayTo. Built on the back of the New Payments Platform, PayTo allows businesses to charge their consumers through direct bank transfers using their PayID. It’s incredibly useful for companies that run business models with recurring payments, as it both automates the payment and allows it to happen in real-time. As it’s a direct bank transfer, you also avoid merchant fees for card payments and any charges that may occur if you attempt to draw payment out of an overdrawn account.

“Embedded finance experts such as Zai have been working closely with NPP to deliver best-in-class solutions for PayTo.The service was only launched last month, but companies should start enquiring about it now to get ahead of what will be a major shift in how Australians manage payments.”

Karl Durrance, Managing Director ANZ, Stripe

Karl Durrance
Karl Durrance, Managing Director ANZ, Stripe

“Payments provide the essential rails for commerce. Whether that’s your customers paying you, you refunding your customers, or ensuring your employee’s wages and expenses are paid, payments are what makes the world go around. With the plethora of payment options now available as digital wallets, subscription services, online marketplaces, having the right financial infrastructure to power your online payment processing and commerce solutions can save you time, money and help streamline your business.

“Digital transformation isn’t just an option for businesses looking to get ahead.  It’s now a necessity for any company of any size and that’s where platforms like Stripe come in. Optimising payments, adding new business models, driving additional revenue streams and scaling faster are all key to business success. From homegrown brands like Luxury Escapes and The Dinner Ladies to much larger multinational businesses like Xero, Atlassian, and Scentre Group (Westfield), being armed with the right tools means we can collectively grow the GDP of the internet.”

Rob Taylor, Head of New Markets ANZ, Zoom

Rob Taylor
Rob Taylor, Head of New Markets ANZ, Zoom

“The customer experience is more central to financial services than ever before. People want flexible, secure options from wherever they happen to be. We’ve worked with customers like NAB to evolve the way financial services are delivered, using Zoom Rooms, Meetings and Zoom Phone. Features like virtual receptionist, smart call queues, and end to end encryption give your team and customers easy access to secure, streamlined services.

“If it’s apps you’re after, look no further than the Zoom Apps library. It’s a treasure trove of tools. I’ve been loving the online whiteboard from Miro, using visual tools like sticky notes and diagrams, to democratize participation across our hybrid teams and produce more actionable outcomes.

“With the DocuSign app integrated directly into Zoom, users across banking, finance and insurance industries are benefiting from the incredible time saver that is digital signatures. After weaving this app into my own day-to-day, it’s hard to imagine we ever used to courier contracts over to customers or vendors for their physical signatures! It’s a real game changer.”

Lucy Allen, Global Head of eCommerce, OFX

Lucy Allen
Lucy Allen, Global Head of eCommerce, OFX

“Fluctuating exchange rates come with the territory of managing a global ecommerce or import/export business. Rather than using precious time watching foreign exchange markets all day, an easy way to streamline cashflow and help protect your business from volatility is through natural hedging.

“This occurs when your overseas revenue, earnings, and costs, from customers or partners, are in the same currency. Costs can also include different business expenses, such as paying taxes, vendors or suppliers. The biggest benefit to natural hedging for businesses is more certainty over profit margins, as you aren’t converting revenue unnecessarily at an exchange rate you can’t control.

“Fintech tools such as an OFX Global Currency Account, which grants access to eight virtual currency accounts, allow businesses to achieve natural hedging; you can receive, hold and send funds in multiple currencies, within a single dashboard. So you can bypass unnecessary conversion fees eating into your profits.”

James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic

James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic

“Integrating diverse apps and data as well as automating core workflows and processes are critical first steps to creating a modern, connected financial services experience for consumers. Doing so allows you to harness the power of your data to gain insights for better decision- making, inform the development of new products and services, streamline operations, lower costs and more.”

“Many firms are already using automated workflows and AI to keep pace on the surface with consumer expectations. But these pockets of automation and digitalisation are often siloed, the product of disconnected data and applications, leading to inconsistent consumer experiences.

“The fact is the faster you can integrate all your applications and systems, the better you can compete with seamless, connected experiences for your customers. It allows you to harness the power of your data to gain insights for better decision making, inform the development of new products and services, streamline operations and lower overhead costs, and more. With a true 360-degree view of your customer, you’re able to deliver personalised marketing and services that meet their needs.”

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

“Small businesses play a significant role to the Australian economy, yet are often the least advanced when it comes to digitising and optimising their own operations. However, nowadays, it’s very easy to outsource aspects of the business which are time consuming or laborious using technology. 

“Firstly, if you haven’t already, make sure you have the right digital accounting software (like Xero or MYOB) to simplify this process. Once this is in place, look for aspects of the business which could be made more efficient. There are apps for monitoring business expenses (Expensify), getting your invoices paid early (Marmalade) and handling your backend business payments (Pin Payments/Stripe).

“While there are countless apps to make running your business easier, what you decide on will depend on your needs. Take the time to read reviews from other businesses using the tools you’re considering, to get a better idea on their impact to your business.”

Marcus Lasarow, Founder and CEO, CashD

Marcus Lasarow, Founder and CEO, CashD

“Considering the flexibility of our work lives now, the pay cycle is the last bastion for change. Along with the emergence of apps that enable micro savings, BNPL services and financial coaching, many employees are also seeking the option of earned wage access to match their new work models.

“The traditional pay cycle is outdated, there are more people accessing apps to get their pay before pay day rolls around, as opposed to using credit applications for living costs. An app that enables workers to get paid their up-to-the-minute accrued earnings from their employer at any time on any day, can flip the old pay cycle system on its head.

“The CashD app integrates with a company’s existing processes across payroll, workforce management and HR solutions, and offers an extension of the company payroll funds. A 2020 survey demonstrated that flexible pay solutions that empower employees, such as an app for access to a real-time digital wallet of earned funds, can increase staff retention by 19% and speed up recruitment by 27%. The seamless low risk experience can be a game changer for the business, and make them an employer of choice.”

Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital

Patrick Tripp
Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital

“Marketers in banking and finance are used to navigating regulations. Strict rules make it challenging to connect with consumers in a meaningful way, something now expected from all brands digitally. However, with the right tools and support, restrictions can spur creativity and see finserv brands uniquely differentiate from their competitors.

“Banking and finance marketing teams must have access to industry-compliant solutions that enable them to make bold customer interactions. Rather than having non-engaging, one-way communications, there is an increasing need to offer a two-way conversation between business and consumer across all channels.

“Solutions that offer personalised and two-way engagement with consumers across multiple channels will increase the customer lifetime value due to their meaningful experience with your business, which then presents the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell with your happy clients.”

Carly Shamgar, Co-Founder & CEO, Shouta

Carly Shamgar
Carly Shamgar, Co-Founder & CEO, Shouta

“Utilising fintech tools and apps in the workplace can streamline processes and give you more time to focus on the running of your business. The question is, what are your pain points and what tools are available to help you?

“I work with businesses every day who struggle with the hassle of corporate gifting. Often, businesses are ingrained with old school processes and ideas around gifting that can be time consuming, expensive, and a logistical nightmare. Many are now opting for new-age fintech alternatives to simplify the process.

“The Shouta Biz platform allows businesses to digitally gift clients and employees in a way that is quick and affordable –  it’s a must-have fintech tool for all businesses big and small.”

Guy Olian, CEO, Smart Ease

Guy Olian
Guy Olian, CEO, Smart Ease

“Given the huge number of fintechs in the marketplace, thorough research is critical before adopting a solution or partnering with a business. Many of the best fintechs solve a single problem and have specialist expertise in their niche; look for case studies to get a good sense of the business problems solved and the applications in different settings. A good source of advice or information could be your industry body or association.

“While the tech aspect is key, most fintechs are only as good as their service. Often you need more than just a platform to complete a transaction. You may need some advice or consultation, so find a fintech that will listen to you, has the resources to help, and that puts customers first. As well as asking the right questions, look for genuine testimonials that demonstrate a strong service record.

“Finding the right solution for your business can unlock huge potential. These innovations can make your business more efficient by increasing productivity and reducing operating costs. Smart Ease, for example, helps businesses decarbonise and digitise their operations – which helps to increase business efficiencies and lower overhead costs.”

Brian Renvoize, Director of Growth AU, Wayflyer

Brian Renvoize
Brian Renvoize, Director of Growth AU, Wayflyer

“Australia is home to a thriving culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, with a rising number of individuals committing to the dream of establishing their own businesses. With the eCommerce space bustling in particular, there is a need for agile and smart tools that support businesses in this sector and enable them to grow, especially from a funding and analytics point of view. One of the biggest challenges is that traditional finance providers often don’t consider the unique context of eCommerce businesses.

“However, new alternative finance providers are increasingly offering solutions tailored to the needs of this sector. This includes things like evaluating business performance holistically when assessing funding applicability. It also means providing fintech tools/apps which help entrepreneurs make data-driven decisions based on insights from sales, revenue and more. In short, business leaders should collaborate with a company that sees the relationship as a partnership – one where both parties thrive.”

Discover Let’s Talk Business Topics

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

It all began with a very personal story. We did not start with any grand plan in mind. The objective was purely and simply to create a couple of high-quality products that had efficacy and that people could trust. My personal agenda was to produce a daily multi-nutrient that I believed would benefit Monique.

Trevor Bolland and Monique Bolland, co-founders of Nuzest.

When Trevor Bolland discovered that his 22-year-old daughter Monique Bolland had Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that affects the central nervous system and is incurable, he set out on a quest to learn about alternative health and nutrition. What began as a father and daughter looking for solutions has grown into a global company today, formulating supportive nutrition for all.

This is the story of Nuzest, an Australasian nutritional business that is celebrating 10 years of providing high-quality plant-based supplements. 

“I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. As yet, there is no medical cure, and at that time, unlike today, there was very little in the way of treatments to slow down the progress of the disease.  My MRI showed quite serious lesions on the brain and spine, and the prognosis I was given was bleak. I was in a very dark place, and my parents were equally distressed,” Monique recalls.

“My Dad is very determined and does not take no for an answer. He decided to sell out of his business and focus on finding a solution. We spoke to doctors, scientists, and natural health practitioners worldwide and discovered what most health-conscious people understand today; that a balanced lifestyle and good nutrition are critical to good health and longevity.

Monique recounts spending many weeks at a time at a Naturopathic Health Centre in the United States, focusing solely on restoring balance to her body and mind, learning about diet, and receiving natural treatments to help manage the disease.

“Although my background was in graphic and web design, with a degree in Digital Marketing, this journey led me to various studies in nutrition and health coaching and opening an integrated health clinic in Sydney. Meanwhile, she adds that my Dad continued his research and became involved in the health supplements industry.

“Dad and I saw an opportunity to improve on what was already available in the market; to create products that would genuinely support people’s health – not just read well on the labels. In 2012 we joined forces and launched Nuzest – Nutrition for Life.”

The beginning

Trevor Bolland notes that the story of Nuzest did not begin with a big plan. The goal was to build a couple of high-quality items that were effective and that people could rely on. The goal was to create a daily multi-nutrient that would benefit his daughter Monique.

“Through my involvement in the health supplement industry since Monique’s diagnosis, I had learned a little about production and distribution and was confident that if we could produce a good product, we should be able to find a market.

“However, we were essentially new to the industry, with my background being primarily in the property and early childcare education sectors and previously in the Navy. The production and distribution of health-food supplements was a completely different ball game.”

‘We realised we needed to engage and consult with experts in their field.’

Trevor says he called upon many contacts he had made since Monique’s diagnosis, including a team of health practitioners and PhD scientists to assist with the formulation. The duo engaged a highly respected design company in Sydney, Boldinc, to direct brand development, and teamed up with a long-time friend in New Zealand with a career in marketing and communications to partner with them in the launch (in New Zealand).

“Our distribution has grown exponentially and is now available in over 20 countries. Our head office in Potts Point coordinates manufacturing and production in five different countries. 90 per cent of our packaging, design and marketing is now conducted in-house, and we employ people all over the world in roles from sales and logistics to customer service,” Trevor says.

“We have never actively sought distribution in other regions but have taken chances on people who were as passionate about our products as we were and grown with them. Many of our early distributors were people we have known personally or professionally for years or met while starting. These tight connections have meant the feeling of being a family resonates throughout our global team.

“While the products remain fundamentally the same, we continually review and revise our formulations to ensure they are always up to date with the latest scientific research. We will always do this to ensure we are true to our promise of being ‘led by nature, backed by science. 

“Our focus for the foreseeable future is on growing our current markets, extending our product range, and transitioning to fully sustainable packaging by 2025.”

‘The greatest challenge was the unknown.’

Trevor admits that they had minimal industry experience. Thus, there was a lot of “sometimes expensive” on-the-job learning. This included what to look for in manufacturing contracts, how to price the items, what margins were needed for the retail market, labelling needs, the regulatory environment, package sourcing, logistics, and much more.

“We were lucky that we entered the market with plant-based products when “plant-based” popularity was in its infancy. We entered the market with a high-quality pea protein isolate that tasted good and had immediate success. Because we had something different to offer, he says we could get traction in most health food stores in the country.

“We started distribution out of a downstairs room in my partner’s home in Auckland. From there, we did all the packing, managed deliveries, handled customer service, designed marketing collateral, and wrote all the marketing copy. To date, the business has been entirely self-funded.”

‘High-level athletes and personalities became brand advocates, not by contract but by choice as passionate consumers’

Trevor says that Nuzest has become a household name in New Zealand thanks to advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, and attendance at exhibitions across the nation. This was made possible by a strong base of devoted consumers, which included numerous elite athletes and public figures who chose to become brand ambassadors rather than being asked to do so.

“Entering new markets has been particularly challenging. There is an entirely new regulatory environment, different labelling requirements, logistical challenges, different distribution systems, and new competition. There is no easy way to navigate these waters, especially without experience in the industry. It was simply a matter of learning by trial and error, taking the first step and finding your way.

“After ten years in business, the challenges keep coming. There has been a plethora of new brands, many with significant financial backing due to the market opportunity offered by the growth in the sector, with each advocating their credentials as being of the highest quality. It is difficult to be heard above the noise and equally difficult for the consumer to know whom to believe.

“With the introduction of Good Green Vitality (previously named Good Green Stuff), our biggest challenge was explaining what it was and what it was designed for; how it was different from a multivitamin tablet or the usual mixture of just Spirulina, Chlorella and Wheat Grass. This challenge continues today, and we rely very much on one-on-one communication, the support of health practitioners, and word-of-mouth.”

The COVID-19 effect – Supply chain bottlenecks

Trevor says that COVID 19, whilst initially being a cause for increased demand, has resulted in significant supply chain challenges and increased costs, placing pressure on margins and on the ability to supply stock.

“The industry generally is more complex than ever. Because of growth in consumer demand, the entire industry is growing exponentially. We have multiple companies providing innovative ingredients and new delivery formats such as Gummies, candies, and shots. More competition with Venture Capital funding numerous start-ups and multinationals entering the sector. This has brought more focus from regulatory bodies resulting in additional barriers and increased costs.

“However, there is equally more recognition by people of the importance of good nutrition and significant scientific research on the benefits of certain nutrients for specific conditions and general health. There is also greater acceptance by many in the traditional medicine of an integrative approach to health care. Medicine is science, and Science is, after all, the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural world.”

For the greater cause

Trevor believes that knowledge is the first point for good nutrition for everyone. “We are trialling a program in underprivileged primary schools in New Zealand called “Basecamp”. It aims to inspire and empower young children through nutrition, health and wellbeing.

“The school is visited by one of our Nuzest sports ambassadors, who share their success story and explains how being healthy in body and mind helped them believe and achieve their lifelong dream.

“They deliver a masterclass outside on the sports field and then teach the children to make a nutritious smoothie as part of their healthy eating plan. The aim is for the children to make the connection that food is mood and food is energy and that a healthy mind and healthy body lead to greater focus and success.

“We are selecting schools in the 5th decile (lower socio-economic communities) in New Zealand as a sustainable and positive ‘give back to schools in need.

“However, the parents’ education also needs to be addressed. We tend to think of supplements as being expensive. However, if the cost of a serving of Kids Good Stuff is compared with the price of a take-out coffee, a glass of beer or wine, or a packet of cigarettes, we might understand that good nutrition is more accessible than most people realise.

“That does not, of course, apply to everyone. Still, perhaps one answer could be a Government-led social programme in partnership with supplement companies, providing vouchers for quality nutritional support products.”

The never-ending debate on supplements

Monique notes that the question that is debated is the need or otherwise for supplementation by the general population versus reliance on food from your daily diet alone.

“I would like to clarify that we do not advocate supplements as a cure for, or prevention of, disease. I still have Multiple Sclerosis. Whilst a change in lifestyle and good nutrition helped me manage that in the early years, there are pharmaceutical solutions today that can slow down the progression of the disease. We believe in an integrative approach to health, and I take advantage of all the available tools to enable me to lead an everyday life.

“While we firmly believe that food comes first, sometimes diet alone isn’t enough to meet the nutritional requirements of modern life. Even a clean, whole-food-based diet may not provide the variety or required levels of nutrients for optimal health. The soil our food is grown in is often deficient in nutrients. These crops’ harvesting, storage and transportation can further deplete their nutritional value. 

“The medical profession widely prescribes some supplements for specific conditions or where there is serious depletion. Vitamin D, Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 and many more are regularly taken on medical advice. Vitamin D is a strongly advised supplement for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

“Additionally, many people have medical or genetic conditions that don’t produce, absorb, or metabolise certain nutrients. If our digestive systems are out of balance, we may not absorb all the nutrients in the food we consume. Other people, such as athletes, tend to need more of certain nutrients than the average person.

“Finally, people are on restricted diets due to food allergies or beliefs where supplementation of certain essential nutrients is advised.

“The difference between a product like Good Green Vitality and a simple multivitamin tablet is that it is food based and therefore contains a matrix of nutrients that can be found in whole foods. It is also more than a multivitamin and much more than just a “greens” powder; it is a comprehensive blend of whole food powders strengthened with high polyphenol fruit extracts, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals, dietary enzymes, probiotics and more, a true superfood more than a simple supplement.”

“Whilst we always advise people to seek advice from their health practitioner before taking supplements for therapeutic purposes, we do advocate the use of a daily multi-nutrient such as Nuzest Good Green Vitality to help fill nutritional gaps due to potential deficiencies in the everyday diet. In many ways, it can be likened to an insurance policy.”

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

In what might sound like an unlikely source of inspiration, it was Freya Tasci’s studies in literature and philosophy that would go on to inspire her successful business idea.

Coming across references to oilskin used to wrap items in transit, the entrepreneur decided to test it out herself.

“I was buying expensive organic veggies for my small children who had allergies and they’d wilt in the fridge after a few days – I needed better wrapping to keep them safe,” she recalled. “I also wanted to avoid introducing harmful chemicals like plastics into the house.”

When she couldn’t find anything like this in the market, trials into creating her own oilskin (cotton soaked in beeswax) ensued. Eventually, she landed on her hit product: Apiwraps, named after the Latin word for ‘bee’.

She elaborated, “They’re waterproof but also breathable, making it the perfect item to wrap veggies and other food items like that. And since its beeswax soaked in cotton, it can be washed and used again.

“Beeswax is the most incredible material. It’s beautifully versatile and natural. It’s something that you can even eat and there’s no chemicals or anything in it.”

Freyja’s practical, eco-friendly product can be used around the kitchen and with proper care and attention, one Apiwrap will last around a year. Significantly, due to its sustainable impact, it’s estimated that Apiwraps has replaced the need for more than 10 million metres of single-use plastic wrap over its last ten years of business.

an image of beeswax kitchen wrapping used to cover a salad
Source: supplied

Supporting small businesses

She started the business in November 2012, selling Apiwraps in Byron Bay markets.

“People would walk past and say to me ‘you’ve got to build this business, you’ve got to scale it, this is amazing’,” Freyja grinned.

Today Apiwraps are available across Australia through their website, local vendors, and major retailers like Aldi and Woolworths.

The production of Apiwraps combines the efforts of numerous small Australian businesses: a family beekeeping business for the wax, one of Australia’s last standing textile manufacturers for the cotton, and local artists who create the unique designs.

Freyja elaborated, “My mother was a fine artist, so I love having the opportunity to support the arts and other small businesses with this commercial product. That’s the beauty of being in business and keeping business in Australia, we get to meet and work with these amazing people.”

COVID as a ‘reset’

Like many other entrepreneurs, she suddenly found herself “on pause” for two years when the pandemic hit. Having to scale back expenses, they had to cut the team down to the bare minimum, move out of their warehouse at the end of the lease, and find a way to continue orders.

“It’s a reset in a way of everything. And now I’m launching any product at the gift fairs in Melbourne, at the end of the month, and I’m doing a product launch from scratch for the first time in 10 years!” she laughed.

“To do that, I followed my own advice. I reached out to our retailers to pick their brains. What was working? Do you think the customers might like this? What about if we did so-and-so? It was invaluable to get that information, to inform me on the product I’ve got.

“It’s now an exciting time to go into a product launch and this all came from taking that step back during the pandemic.”

Source: supplied

Entrepreneurship and motherhood

With her children’s allergies playing a pivotal role in inspiring Apiwraps, it’s no wonder than Freyja continues to find inspiration and drive from them, now 13 and nine.

“When you’re in the thick of running a business and it lives or dies with your effort, you have this temptation – ‘what if I sold this and got a job?’ It could be so easy to do that, to get a more reliable income,” she observed.

“The fact that I am juggling motherhood and the responsibilities with my business, I know that I would never have that flexibility anywhere else. I really want to work for myself so I’ll make this effort.”

The best advice received

Freyja still remembers the valuable advice one of her uncles provided in the early days of the business.

“I felt like I was in an endless cycle of investment, and we were inching, painfully slowly, forward. That’s when he said to look at it as a series of experiments in order to find the solutions.

“It’s a subtle shift, but realising the world isn’t against you is a really empowering mindset change.  You’re creating something from nothing and this is simply the process. I’ve since applied it to everything I do in business, whether it’s a new product launch or a new advertising strategy – it’s just a series of experiments that will reveal the best way forward.

“Business is hard and it’s not always going to be easy. But just because something’s not easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it or that it’s not a worthy idea.”

READ MORE: Founder Friday with Jacinta Timmins: the secrets of launching a sustainable apparel brand

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

“I would describe the early days of the company, knowing what I know now, as a HOT mess! I had eyes bigger than my belly, so I would say yes to everything and work it out later. My solution to being too busy was to hire people like me, which was a BIG mistake”

Kiani Mills

At age 35, Kiani Mills is the co-founder of Edwards Mills, a buyers advocacy company, as well as the creator of Imperiale, a real estate conveyancing firm which she co-founded in 2021 with MAFS graduate Jake Edwards.

But getting to the top of the ladder wasn’t easy. Kiani, one of six children born and raised in Frankston, lacked structure as a child and teen.

After leaving school to pursue a career in law, she landed a job as a legal trainee when she was 18 earning $14,000/year. She commuted daily from Frankston, eating sausage rolls from 7/11 on the train, as that was all her budget would allow. 

She was promoted to a Paralegal in the property law department, and that’s where she fell in love with conveyancing. Kiani spent the next few years raising her son, pursuing her passion for property law and conveyancing as a Paralegal, paying expenses, and managing her personal life. 

However, despite working the whole three months of her maternity leave while caring for a newborn and a toddler, she returned to work only to be told she no longer had a job.

“Working in a law firm under the protection of 15 lawyers doesn’t set you up to run a new business. However, I did it anyway and loved (and hated) every minute of it,” Kiani recalls.

Kiani started her conveyancing business out of her house, set up on her kitchen bench, having clients come over for a cup of tea whilst she printed their documents on her $100 printer. 

“From there, six months passed, and myself and my first employee moved into our Collins St Office, in the Paris end, I was very proud. Here we gained two more staff, then moved to Level 10, 525 Flinders St, with a perfect glass office overlooking the Yarra River and Nobu at Crown Casino. 

“The real-life version of Suits! We grew to six before moving to our long-term home leasing at 70 Bridport St, Albert Park. Having a whole building not even two years into running a new business was surreal and brought new challenges and triumphs.

“We opened further offices in Mornington, Glen Waverley, Ballarat and Port Melbourne, adopting the digital world of PEXA and deeming ourselves a paperless office… We were up to 9 staff, a BDM and myself before the global pandemic decided to pounce whilst I was mid-holiday in Bali… Lucky for us, we escaped in the nick of time and got on the last plane! 

“This saw us close all of our offices and announce to the world that we had gone digital.  This also led to the launch into Queensland and NSW, with Queensland taking off instantly thanks to a couple of big referral partners.

“This financial year has seen us with 56 per cent growth in profit and exceeding our expected targets and milestones. However, as they say, it isn’t all roses and rainbows. There have been massive hurdles to jump, trials and tribulations and painful moments where the thought of giving up crept in. I am and always will be fighting the silent battle in business and wondering, ‘will this all be taken away. 

“This lights the fire inside of me, which gives me drive and commitment to myself, my family, my staff and the whole Imperiale family, our clients and referral partners. I do it every day because I want to, but more importantly, I get to. I am privileged to be in this position where I get to help, give back, and run a business the way I do.”

The beginning

Kiani remembers the company’s early years as being complete chaos.

“Well… I would describe the company’s early days, knowing what I know now, as a hot mess! I had eyes bigger than my belly, so I would say yes to everything and work it out later, or just work later. My solution to being too busy was to hire people like me, which was a BIG mistake. People like me had the social skills but didn’t have the work dedication skills to keep them at their desks.” 

Kiani notes that getting into real estate was a by-product of property law. Until she left working in Law Firms, she wasn’t really aware of how much of an influence the Real Estate Industry had as she wasn’t exposed to that world until she left the big city. Then very quickly, Real Estate became her passion/obsession. 

“The personable nature of it, the fluctuation in the market, every day was different, different values, interest rates, people, rules, everything. It was a wonder to me, and I fell deeply in love with it. 

“There is still a lot of an ‘a grey area’ in the Real Estate industry, which baffles me at times; however, for the most part, it is exciting and does sit in line with my desire to help others make their dreams come true, and this just happens to be a very sought after vehicle. So hence starting a Conveyancing company was a no-brainer for me. I had the skills to be forged in an industry that I loved.

“We were never short on clients, which was a relief; however, as most small business owners, I was wearing every hat, controlling the flow of everything and still trying to do most things myself, even though I had support. 

“Starry-eyed but determined, I loved the challenge, the fast pace, the thrill of it all. Help as many people as possible, say yes and deliver, even if it meant sacrificing time with the kids, eating and/or sleeping!” 

Why we need conveyancers like Impériale

Impériale Conveyancing is a professional property concierge and advisor who connects the dots for individuals at every stage of the property journey.

Kiani explains that the most common mistake she finds, even with Google, is that consumers do not have their Contract of Sale examined before signing. She also notes that so many things could be wrong with a property/contract, and Solicitors/Conveyancers provide this service for free. 

Conveyancers provide knowledgeable advice and personalised service when buying, selling, subdividing, transferring, or developing real estate. They also produce and manage all necessary paperwork throughout the transaction.

She encourages everyone to use this service. “Another issue is that people bid at auctions when they shouldn’t or don’t fully comprehend the implications of doing so. Buying at auction has stringent guidelines, and it is not for everyone,” she adds.

“Finally, not doing thorough due diligence into the local area, planning approvals, etc., you can find most things on the internet or with a quick call to Council, so please don’t assume all is rosy. 

“There may be a Department of Housing Development pinned to be built across the street, a giant freeway earmarked to be built, you may be within an ineligible zoning area, and your lender will not accept. Please google the heck out of any property you look at and be smart.” 

“I believe that the easiest way to make Real Estate a fairer game is for all buyers to utilise the resources of a Buyers Advocate. Sellers can allow a professional to manage the game to ensure the best result. I strongly believe having the buyer represented by a professional also means it is a LOT more of a fair game. 

“Buyers really are at a disadvantage. I started Edwards & Mills Buyers Advocacy with my business partner Jake Edwards to help assist my clients and give them a leg up in the buying game.

“Understanding the value of a good buyer’s advocate can be the difference in winning at auction, finding out about an off-market, savings 6 months of your life from weekend inspections, saving you money, and peace of mind that the due diligence has been completed correctly.” 

‘Imperiale’ is the feminine equivalent of ’empire’, as Kiani’s mission is not just to establish her own business but also to assist others in building theirs.

Learn more about Imperiale Conveyancing at https://imperiale.com.au/

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

As a successful woman who cut her teeth in the male-dominated mining industry, Jahna Cedar OAM is no stranger to challenging perceptions and breaking stereotypes. She’s built a two-decade-long career in business and human resources management, governance, and leadership, empowering women in business and her Indigenous community along the way.

This year, her efforts have been recognised by the state of Western Australia as the winner of the WA State Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership. She will accept her award at the Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) Online Symposium today, Friday, 8 July.

“As a multidimensional First Nations descendant of the Nyiyaparli people, I am humbled to be awarded [this] leadership Award,” said Jahna.

“It is a testament to my resilient ancestors on whose shoulders I stand and whose legacy I continue to advocate for. Indigenous women experience multiple layers of discrimination and intersectional barriers, just like women from other marginalised groups. As a society, we need to look at inclusive and collaborative ways to increase women’s – in particular indigenous women’s – participation in the workforce.”

For Jahna, a working mother herself, this is an issue that strikes a deep chord.

“It was important to me to find a way to juggle work and still be a mum,” she elaborated. “So, after six years at BHP early in my career, I went into HR consulting, where I was able to set my own hours while still getting to spend time with my family.”

Eventually, her passion for corporate and cultural governance led her to Gumala Aboriginal Corporation, where she was director for two years. She now serves as Executive Director Indigenous Advisory, policy, research and evaluation with IPS Management Consultants.

In 2012, Jahna was the youngest person to be elected to the West Australian International Women’s Day Hall of Fame. Five short years later, she was also awarded Telstra Businesswoman Awards WA – For Purpose and Social Enterprise Winner in 2017.

READ MORE: Women in politics: Rethinking the face of power

Source: supplied

Her portfolio remains substantial as a board member of the Curtin University Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Australian Honey Ventures, the Institute of Community Directors advisory committee, and Niapaili Aboriginal Corporation.

She explained, “I definitely stay busy with a lot of board work! But it’s important to me to work towards building capability and capacity within the community.”

A proud Nyiyaparli/Yindjibarndi woman from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with family connection to the Gija people of the Kimberleys, Jahna remains a fierce advocate for equal rights and reconciliation of Indigenous people. In 2020, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to WA’s indigenous community.

She has also represented Indigenous Australia at the United Nations on three occasions.

“I’ve always had a close connection to family, culture, and community. As a child, I would support my grandmother in community volunteering and it’s driven me to champion social justice and specific change for the community,” she shared.

This NAIDOC Week 2022, she strongly echoes the theme ‘get up, stand up, show up’ in her message as a business leader to the Australian business community.

“There’s a lot of lip service but we need to stop talking and see tangible action. We need to call out procurement and unconscious bias and fight harmful misconceptions. For example, being an Aboriginal business does not mean you’re any less professional than any other business,” Jahna said.

Photo by Ben Yew. Source: supplied

She also has important tips for businesses striving to improve gender diversity in the workplace:

“COVID has shown us how to be flexible and this can be extended to help women in the workforce. With options like working from home or changing work hours (some people may need to work nights), we can see businesses begin to set, and meet, specific targets for gender diversity.

“Women often struggle to raise their hand for a seat at the table but it’s about owning our space, remaining confident, and findings allies and champions who support us. As women leaders, we need to model what we want to see in society.”

READ MORE: Ladies, take a seat: adapting recruitment processes to improve gender diversity

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Since this pandemic began, more and more businesses have been pushed to find other “work place” avenues in order to not only avoid clashing with health regulations, but to provide employees with peace of mind. Working from home is now a viable option for a large number of businesses.

So, this far in, what do we think? Work vs. Home? Let’s talk…

Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

I think I’m still somewhat traditional, so I still prefer the camaraderie of the physical office. As culture is very important to us at Oracle NetSuite, I enjoy in-person interaction with my team. The office is great for impromptu chats, sparking collaboration or giving new starters a chance to learn from their peers.

At the same time, the past year has taught us that remote working is indeed a viable option. Thanks to cloud-based technology tools, people can work from wherever makes sense for them – that could be home or the office, but it might also be from a restaurant or construction site if that’s your line of business. As businesses look to move towards hybrid models, I believe the key to managing teams is setting clear goals and communication. While I might prefer the office, it appears that younger workers are more than capable of staying productive at home. Leaders should aim to align teams on goals that will keep everyone focused and working collaboratively. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Working from home offers flexibility, can promote a healthier work/life balance, and reduces time spent in traffic. Ultimately, the key is to ensure your team feels supported and identify tactics to keep them motivated.

Lara Owen, Director of Global Workplace Experience, GitHub

The pandemic has compelled organisations to think about remote operations and flexible work arrangements in ways that they weren’t a year ago. Whatever the chosen operational path, from hybrid to digital by design, clarity on core cultural priorities and business needs before making tactical changes and investments, is crucial. 

Our decade of experience with a distributed workforce tells us that offices are not going away. We will see a rise in hot-desking and a reduction in office footprints. Offices will be designed for collaboration: team deep-dives, customer and community events, celebrations, planning and design work. Successfully building a distributed team demands deliberate changes in the way people work. That requires a shift in the way companies train, empower and support people to work in new ways. 

Companies with a clear mission and purpose, an invested leadership team, and a willingness to let go of parts of the past which do not serve them, will truly thrive and usher in the new future of work. In every crisis there is opportunity – and this is a huge opportunity to embrace a better way of working for the future.

Amy Burton, Managing Lawyer at Everyday Justice, John Monash Scholar

I’m a big believer in flexibility. I personally love having a physical office. I’m a mum of a 1 year-old, so travelling into work is my opportunity to dress up, escape my messy house and spend the day having adult conversations and drinking quality coffee. At the same time though, I love that my legal practice has embraced phone and video-conferencing tech to provide free legal advice to those with disabilities or people in more remote areas who can’t travel to a physical office. 

I also think it’s important for more businesses to offer remote internships now, as we do. I’ve developed great working relationships with my interstate interns over video-conference and they’re getting the opportunity to develop their practical legal skills without needing to be in the same physical office as me.

Anton Schiavello, General Manager, Nura Space

For most of us, our work is fundamental to our identity and sense of self. A core part of this notion is the ‘place’ known as the office, that physically houses and cultivates the organisational culture, relationships, and functional performance outcomes such as collaboration.
The pandemic has shown us that the digital environment is able to support connections between people, but merely as an extension of the physical environment and interaction. In my opinion, the physical office can never be replaced entirely by digital tools, as it’s a place where teams come together and build essential relationships – which benefits both morale and productivity.

As a result of the global pandemic, we now know that the remote working model is here to stay. Workers are empowered to work with more choice and greater flexibility. This means that coming into the physical office will be right for some people, but not for others.

Alex Hattingh, Chief People Office, Employment Hero

Our Remote Working Survey last year found that workers loved remote work and preferred avoiding the daily commute. At the same time, employees missed the social aspect of office life and found it harder to switch off at home.

This is reflective of how increasingly sought-after the hybrid working model and flexible working conditions are becoming. Society’s rapid shift to remote work has revealed the benefits of telecommuting, but has also highlighted the advantages of being in a physical workplace — particularly for mental health, culture, and creativity.

For companies providing on-site facilities, the cultural benefits are endless — being amongst your colleagues or in the midst of a co-working space will certainly help to boost creativity and collaboration, nurture and develop your company’s culture and vision, and have a positive effect on staff’s mental health.

However, organisations that are continuing down the path of full-time remote work, a plethora of tech tools and innovative software exists, which can help to nurture the important social aspects of being in an office. These might include tools for social reward and recognition, team collaboration, and mental health support, that will help to increase employee engagement, regardless of where your staff is working from.

Billy Tucker, CEO, Oneflare

Our team, like many, delivered brilliantly during the crazy period of lockdown last year. However, I’m a big proponent of the need for a physical office and believe that cracks will start to show if it’s completely taken away. 

One argument for not having a physical office is the money businesses will save on rent, but for our business, the numbers simply don’t stack up. The majority of our employees are based in a Sydney office, single-level with water views, with the usual trappings such as a ping pong table and free breakfast. Rent is equivalent to just under 7% of our total labour cost. Add another couple of points for utilities, free food and some office management, and you’re still well under 10%.

Rounding the costs up to one-tenth of our total labour cost means that losing just 4 hours of weekly productivity from each employee as a result of virtual working will leave us worse off. That’s before accounting for a loss of valuable collaboration and other hard-to-measure factors, such as employee churn from those who don’t enjoy working from home. 

May Samali, Professional Coach, Venture Partner & John Monash Scholar

The past year has taught us that face-to-face interaction is critical to our mental and emotional wellbeing. The benefit of a physical office is that it fosters human connections that are almost impossible to replicate online.

It is also a work environment equaliser.

The same cannot be said for remote work — for some, it translates to working from a large home office or holiday home in Byron Bay, and for others it means taking Zoom calls from a closet in a small noisy apartment filled with children.

The ideal is to provide people with a mix of options including a physical office and remote work. There is no one-size-fits-all.

Ultimately, work should not be seen as somewhere we go, but something we do. It is a verb, not a noun. This perspective encourages work-life integration and allows people to “work” whenever, wherever and however is best for their circumstances.

Robert Coorey, Co-Founder, Archistar

If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that we don’t always need a physical office space to be productive and get our jobs done. I think it’s important, however, that employees are given the option. Our office is now a complete hybrid environment – our team can come in on the days that they like, and work from home on the others.  

On the pros of working from home, flexibility is the first thing that comes to mind. Pre-COVID, I hardly ever picked up my kids from school. I was often flat out and would feel guilty leaving the office in the middle of the day. Now, I can occasionally take out 30 minutes to pick up my kids and not miss anything important.

On the flip side, it can be hard when school finishes! During a recent client video call I had to excuse myself temporarily as my 7-year-old son was crying. When I came back into the room my son was on the camera making funny faces to the client! I have now learned to always lock my computer when I leave the room.

Laura Corbett, Office Manager, JobAdder

As many businesses slowly emerge from lockdowns and return back to the physical office, some leaders are still torn about whether to enforce an ‘office-only rule’ or adapt to a flexible, hybrid model. 

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the modern workforce can successfully and seamlessly work from home, and adapt to a more remote, digitally-connected world, whilst still remaining productive. Businesses reaped the benefits while working remotely, by reducing overheads on physical spaces, including maintenance, insurance, furniture, utilities, storage space, and equipment costs. Other benefits include the streamlining of recruitment, and the ability to hire and grow, without the restraints of office space or desk availability. 

In saying this, there are also many benefits that come with physical space, from better team collaboration and engagement, to be being able to mold and nurture the company’s culture. Although digital work offers a number of conveniences, it’s clear to see the social element of working suffers when the only face-to-face engagement teams receive is via Zoom calls. 

If considering a return-to-office approach, it’s important to look at what value a physical office space offers your company, and most importantly, ensure the decision reflects the values of the business and the needs of workers.

Dionne Niven, Chief People Officer, SiteMinder

Blanket rules for team culture are no longer effective, and the same goes for the workspaces that employees work in and the values that drive how those workspaces are designed and managed. There is no point in enforcing blanket rules where all people need to work remotely, go to a physical office space, or adopt rigid hybrid models. Everyone’s needs and circumstances are different, and this has proven to be worth particularly considering since the pandemic, as research highlights it has impacted each person, family, and community differently.

We have adopted an approach we call Open Working, whereby our teams are given the autonomy to determine the best ways of working for them. This encourages staff to minimise the stress of commuting, optimise the benefits of collaborating, and connect with their teams on platforms and in environments that suit their preferences. Not everyone wants to start work at 9am, but almost everyone does want to feel connected and part of a team no matter when or where they’re working, and making that a reality every day will look different for every employee.

Roger Carvosso, Strategy and Product Director, FirstWave Cloud Technology

Thousands of Australians are taking advantage of the opportunities to work from home, which many businesses have trialled and benefited from throughout the pandemic. As well as businesses being able to cut rent costs, and employees being able to save time on commutes, many teams are also experiencing a heightened sense of trust and transparency. 

Meanwhile, a company-wide shift to working remotely has led to a rapid rise in cybersecurity threats and scams throughout 2020, which is an urgent area that needs executives’ attention. As professionals have flocked to working more online, rapidly increased their use of social media and web browsing, and have even further merged how they use technological devices across their personal and professional lives, cybercriminals have had more opportunities than ever to impersonate executives in emails, gather personal information via social media platforms, and trick employees into making payments into the wrong accounts. Consequently, for business leaders planning for a remote workforce in 2021, cybersecurity needs to be a significant part of the business strategy. 

Keep up to date with Dynamic Business on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

In the business game, attention – specifically, the right attention – is king. By now, most of us know that social media is a major marketing avenue for businesses – an incredibly valuable way to attract customers and partnerships, and to amplify the brand as a whole. But, oh boy, are there a lot of questions.

What social media platform is best for your business? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, YouTube? Go all-out on all of them? Or perhaps focus on one or two? Do you go the paid or organic approach?

Let’s talk…

Suzanne Mitchell, Senior Director of Marketing, GoDaddy Australia

As Australian businesses continue to evolve in the ‘new normal’, social media can be a great resource to help them engage customers, generate new leads and build a more personal, approachable digital presence.

There are 18 million social media users in Australia, however, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for selecting the right channels – that depends on your business, industry and customer demographics and preferences.

If you’re selling online and want to communicate directly with consumers, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook can be great options to promote your products and steer customers to your website or online store. Or if you’re in professional services and keen to engage professional contacts and stakeholders, LinkedIn can be an effective networking platform.

To help ensure reach – at scale – consider both an organic and paid approach, and also experiment with different formats beyond just static posts, like Instagram Stories or LinkedIn Texts Ads.

With all marketing channels, ensure your branding, including messaging and tone, is consistent and true to build trust and recognition amongst your audience. 

Alex Roslaniec, Co-Founder, Hey Bud Skincare

In our industry (D2C, skincare), social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram are crucial to our business success.

Instagram serves as a front-facing channel for new customers to understand our brand values, educate, and also showcase the benefits of our products. To existing customers, Instagram allows us to build up a connection and understand our customers more. 

Facebook is the perfect platform to build a strong community. We’ve built a Facebook group called the “Hey Bud VIP’s” where our customers are sharing their enthusiasm and passion for our products and the brand. There’s always someone sharing their latest tips, excitement for upcoming products, or our favourite when people post their positive results from using our products. 

I’d encourage others to do research into similar brands in your industry and see what social media channels they’re using and why, which will allow you to analyse what channels might be best for your business.

Edrianne Javier, Head of Marketing & Public Relations, 12RND Fitness & UBX Training

As a Fitness Franchise, our ultimate goal guiding all of our efforts across social media is to generate high quality leads for both Franchise Sales and Membership Sales. In order to identify which platform can help us to increase our volume of leads, ensures that those leads are high quality (easy to convert), and uses budget the most effectively – we test. We select a number of different platforms we believe our target audience is most likely to be using, and run a mix of paid and organic campaigns, then analyse the results.

According to Hootesuite’s latest Digital Executive Summary Report (2021), 45% of all internet users globally use social media platforms to research their purchases. We encourage our Franchisees to share as much insight into their club environment as possible through their content across all placements within both platforms. Then over time, they can focus their efforts based on where they’re getting the most engagement and membership interest. For some, it’s more Facebook, and the use of Messenger, and others see greater results through stories and Direct Message via Instagram. 

David Fairfull, CEO & Co-Founder, Metigy

The golden rule of business is to never start something before you can answer why you’re starting it. So, when assessing the best social media platform for your business, the key to success is having a clear understanding of what your company’s objectives are. 

Is your social media objective to drive sales or leads, build brand awareness, or act as a customer service platform? 

The answer to these questions will affect which is the “best” platform to select.

Breaking this down:

  • Facebook and Instagram are ideal for businesses looking to drive direct sales through targeted paid ad campaigns, but their cluttered nature does make it tough for brands to grow communities organically
  • Instagram is best suited to brands that can drive engagement and build their brands through visual content
  • LinkedIn can be leveraged by white-collar businesses for thought leadership and innovation
  • TikTok and Snapchat are best suited for businesses looking to target a younger audience with original video content

Rather than having a strong presence on every social platform on the market, identify the channels that best suit your objective and align your social strategy accordingly.

Growing your business’ social media presence isn’t as easy as flicking a switch on. It requires consistent performance analysis and optimisation in order to grow, which is where digital marketing tools become a critical business asset. 

Run Samarakoon & Robert Mikhail, Directors, Cosmetic Avenue

Social media is such an integral part of Cosmetic Avenue’s platform to educate and communicate with our clients. In fact it’s so important that we have a dedicated in-ouse Social Media Manager. 

Being such a visual platform, which our clients are high users of, we utilise the various features across the platforms, particularly Instagram and Facebook to post educational surgical videos, Q&A videos, Before & After transformations, and to answer many of the questions we receive via DMs (Direct Messaging). 

Facebook’s ‘Groups’ feature has allowed us to create a dedicate private Cosmetic Avenue Discussion Group, which now has over 4,000 members! The group encourages discussion, questions, and sharing of before and after images, in a safe and supportive environment created to support its members during a nervous but exciting time. 

With over 25,000 followers already, Social Media will continue to be an integral method of client engagement for our business.

Anna Ji, Head of Product, Clipchamp

For businesses looking to integrate video into their digital marketing strategies, social media is an obvious choice. Not only does it have the ability to target niche audience segments, but it can also lead to more business down the track. In fact, according to research, social videos generate 135 per cent more organic traffic than static imagery.

When deciding on the best platforms for your strategy, it’s important to understand which platforms your audiences are accessing the most and really hone in on them.

For example, a beauty company might want to make use of social media platforms like Instagram, over Twitter or Facebook. While a finance company may opt for LinkedIn. Also, don’t forget that 98 per cent of Australian users access social media via mobile devices, so make sure your content is mobile friendly and following the correct specifications.

Handy tip: Ensure the content is tailor-made for each platform, as it will have a much higher chance of engagement and turning buzz to business than a one-size-fits-all marketing approach.

Alexander Frolov, CEO, HypeAuditor

Brands are increasingly flooding to social media, all fighting for the attention of users. There are a few factors to consider when choosing which social media platform will yield the most ROI and leads for your business.

Brand personality: Brands need to have a clear vision of their brand identity. When posting content, you need to keep in mind what emotions you want to trigger in your audience and it needs to reflect your brand personality. For example, for audacious, young, and bold brands with a young target audience, TikTok might be the most suitable platform.

Audience: Even though it seems very obvious, it’s often overlooked. It’s paramount to understand what audiences use each platform. For example, according to the HypeAuditor recent research, the core TikTok audience in Australia is female between 13 and 24 years old (44.65%).There is also a large number of users between 13 and 17 years old (31.56%). So if you’re a B2B company, TikTok might not be the best option for you.

Campaign goal: Some platforms will be more appropriate than others depending on the objectives of your campaigns. If you’re looking to launch an influencer marketing campaign, and want the highest engagement rate, as it is a popular KPI for brand awareness, Instagram or TikTok are your best options. But if you want to further your reach and achieve long-term impact, you might want to consider YouTube.

Competitors analysis: Study competitors’ websites, social media profiles, and ads to get a sense of the creative assets that they’re using and look at their audience responses too. Since influencer marketing is a relatively new marketing channel, the information gathered about your competitors’ strategies is especially valuable, as it helps to adjust your strategies and choose the mechanics that work best on different platforms.

Dirk Steller, Founder and Managing Partner, Seed Space Venture Capital

The media landscape has shifted dramatically over the last five years, propelling social into focus as a vital engagement tool for business.

My focus goes to LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 740 million members spanning at least 200 countries. It offers an instant global audience and a large opportunity to create a substantial network with like-minded industry professionals.

For a start-up seeking investment, the platform offers engagement opportunities with the high-level decision makers, while allowing it to showcase its brand and differentiate it from the competition.

Social media and, particularly LinkedIn, now forms upwards of 50 per cent of public outreach in the fintech sector. In fact, according to social media management Hootsuite, a staggering 55 million companies worldwide are now on LinkedIn.

Robin Marchant, Head of Marketing APAC, Shopify

Whether your brand is exploring social media marketing for the first time, or whether you’ve been doing it for years, it’s never been more important to invest in understanding the customer and how the way they search for information and interact with your brand has changed in the last six months.

It’s easy to take a ‘spray and pray’ approach to social media by posting content on every channel and hoping for the best, but this is the fastest way to wasting resources and putting customer relationships at jeopardy. Customers expect brands to use their customer data to everyone’s advantage, which means using the data to only reach out to customers on platforms they want to hear from you on and with information that is genuinely helpful.

It’s important to keep an eye out for new or fast-growing platforms, like TikTok, as well, to ensure you’re not falling behind on customer expectations and behavioural trends.

Start with the data, and let customer insights dictate how social media strategies are implemented.

Ben Crow, Marketing & Partnerships Executive, WLTH

With so many diverse social media platforms existing in the current market, it can often be hard for businesses to pick and choose where to best focus their attention.

My tip would be to refer to your business model and the demographic you want to target to help steer you in the right direction. Every business is different, so it’s important to completely understand your customers and the platforms they are using before rolling out any social strategy. Think about your messaging and know exactly what you want to achieve before you start mindlessly uploading content.

Social media is also a great way to gather feedback from clients and build it into your overall NPS strategy for your business. As with everything, if you aren’t allocating time to your socials, you need to decide if it is worth establishing a social account. If you don’t put the work into it, you won’t get the results you want.

Keep up to date with Dynamic Business on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Running a business is a challenge at the best of times, but throw in a pandemic and the associated economic woes – and cost cutting has never been more important. So, in what areas could your business improve on when it comes to keeping that expenditure down? Let’s talk…

Vu Tran, Co-Founder, Go1

There are many ways SMBs can cut costs, but given the pandemic, it’s even more important than ever to balance any action with staff wellbeing. 

Conduct an audit of your biggest cost centres. It’s important to have a clear view of all expenses to help guide which costs can be slashed. For example, could a virtual assistant replace the administrative tasks of a few people so they can provide higher value contributions that can have a greater impact on revenue?

Staff training is another secret weapon – with minimal investment, it can do wonders for the productivity and morale.

With remote working and hybrid working set to continue, reducing office space may also be desirable. For some businesses, switching from traditionally leased space to an on-demand co-working space (or desks) could offer further cost savings.

Stephen Barnes, Principal, Byronvale Advisors

In a time of crisis in a business, like most businesses are facing now with COVID-19, it is vital that decisions are made. 

With cost cutting, go fast and go hard. 

If you suspect that sales are going to decline, and debtor days are going to lengthen, cut back your overheads now.  Waiting until the sales slow and the cash cycle lengthens, or waiting to see what happens in a week, a month or a year, is to me like watching a car crash in slow motion. 

Cut back your overheads now and cut them back hard. Then, when circumstances improve, grow these expenses slowly. You might even find you come out of the crisis a lot stronger and leaner business.

Dunya Lindsey, COO, Wiise

Amid the pressures of COVID, many businesses have had to take a good hard look at their expenses to determine where cost-savings can be made. In a time where survival is key, cash flow becomes absolutely critical – running lean is a priority right now.

Automation is one way to save costs. Labour-intensive, manual processes such as re-keying information are a direct hit to a company’s productivity and ultimately cash flow. Automation enables staff to spend more time on higher value tasks such as maximising sales, keeping customer satisfaction high, or getting orders out in time.

Understanding the true cost of sale is also key. For manufacturing and logistics businesses, freight costs have rocketed, likewise the price of imported goods. The cost of sale has to be recalibrated. To do this manually is very complex, but cloud-based ERP systems can automatically recalibrate costs due to changing shipping fees and taxes to ensure a profit is always being made.

Ollie Watts, Co-Founder, Hey Bud Skincare

Applying cost-cutting methods can bring immediate savings and improvements to the profitability of your business. As a growing E-Commerce store, Hey Bud Skincare constantly requests updated contracts from its courier and handling companies as well as its payment processors. Talk to these companies and they will provide baseline figures to achieve these cost savings.

As a start-up, invest your time in learning new skills (such as media buying, website development or video editing), if it helps you grow your business without risking your long-term goals. You’ll save on outsourcing fees and learn a useful skill set at the same time. 

It’s also who you know that brings success in cost-cutting. Reach out to people who have more experience in the same field and industry than you – they can save you time and money by sharing with you their costly mistakes which you can avoid, and also provide tips that can optimise and grow your business. 

Jarrod Kinchington, Managing Director, Infor ANZ

As companies embark on digital transformation journeys, there are significant savings to be made by adopting infrastructure – and software as-a-service solutions, and replacing the “traditional” hardware and software approach. Choosing the right cloud partner not only saves money, but provides the ability to rapidly scale your business accordingly and remain resilient in today’s business environment.  

Intelligent solutions that include automation, machine learning, asset management and workforce scheduling can reduce hours of mundane tasks and administration, giving employers the opportunity to re-purpose their staff to focus on higher-value work.  

Modern and industry-specific software, purpose-built for different micro-verticals, can help simplify business processes and foster closer collaboration amongst employees – especially in the new remote and hybrid working world.

More advanced organisations are expected to accelerate their adoption of artificial intelligence and business analytics that will enable them to accurately forecast supply and demand in real-time.

It’s also important to audit the services you currently have and discontinue those you no longer use (but are still paying for) as well as duplicate services you may have subscribed to.

Ryan Miller, CEO, Keeping Company

If you start any cost cutting exercise by first targeting the line items in the budget which cost the most, you’ve missed a critical step – aligning cost cutting with the business strategy.

Start with the business’ overarching strategy. What will achieve a return on investment against your strategy and what won’t? Going paperless, renegotiating supplier contracts and cutting discretionary costs like entertainment or gifts will deliver savings without impacting your business goals. However, making overly deep cuts to headcount, for example, could lead to the business becoming too under-resourced to achieve your strategic goals.

Other options for cutting costs include outsourcing or automating tasks, transitioning to a partly or fully virtual office, changing banks to a more cost effective facility, consolidating any credit cards or establishing a system to automate payments or provide reminders to make payments so you can avoid unnecessary late fees.

Joseph Robins, Payments Expert, GoCardless.

According to the Forrester report, 85 percent of businesses have more than 20 people responsible for managing payments, and more than 60 per cent of surveyed payment decision-makers said the most time-consuming areas are matching payments to invoices, and reconciling reporting from different gateways or processors.

This more than often means that businesses of all sizes need dedicated staff to manage the different stages of the payment process, be it manually entering payment details into a legacy system, generating payment files to be submitted to a bank, manually reconciling each day or chasing late payers.

There’s a big misconception in the difference between price and cost when it comes to a payment solution. Your “cheap” provider may charge you cents in transaction fees, but could be costing you thousands of dollars in human intervention. Now imagine those staff are freed up to work on “value-add” initiatives like expansion or increasing sales, and it quickly becomes evident that spending that bit more for a fully automated solution can have a huge impact on your business as a whole.

Keep up to date with Dynamic Business on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Australia’s agricultural sector is set to enjoy a generally profitable year ahead – underpinned by high commodity prices, positive seasonal conditions, and low-interest rates, and despite expected continuing trade tensions with China – according to Rabobank’s Agribusiness Outlook for 2021.

The report says a largely profitable 2020/21 season for most Australian farmers will not only kick start recovery from the recent severe east coast drought but also put the sector in a stronger position to navigate several major transitions it will face in the year ahead – the pandemic recovery, reducing reliance on China and increasing sustainability. 

Report lead author, Rabobank head of Food & Agribusiness Research Tim Hunt said despite the turbulent environment facing the world as 2021 gets underway, global demand for food and agribusiness products remained “surprisingly firm”, while weather patterns were also favouring Australia ahead of competitors when it comes to production. 

“In a current global environment marked by the pandemic, political tensions and trade wars, demand for food and agri products has remained unexpectedly strong,” he said. 

“And despite the punitive actions of China on Australian agriculture, high agricultural commodity prices, low-interest rates, and positive seasonal conditions are underpinning a positive outlook for most farmers in 2020/21.” 

Credit: Rabobank

Turbulent place 

The world is a “turbulent place” as Australia’s agricultural sector enters 2021, the Rabobank report says, impacted by factors including the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, the completion of Brexit and the emergence of the US from a tumultuous presidency, as well as continuing trade wars, which are distorting the direction and price of traded goods. 

“Market intervention is back in vogue, with grain-exporting countries reconsidering export quota and taxes as they fret over food security, while elsewhere port strikes have impeded trade flows,” the report says. 

Demand for agricultural commodities though is being supported, with several major importing countries appearing to be stockpiling to mitigate the risk of shortages and by unprecedented support from governments helping to offset the pandemics impact on employment and incomes, and therefore spending on food. 

And while foodservice channels remain compromised in many markets due to pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, the otherwise strong demand for food and agri commodities is seeing global prices supported – which is good news for Australian farmers, Mr Hunt said. 

Weather deals “winning hand” 

The weather has also finally turned in favour of Australian farmers, the report says, “with mother nature dealing Australian farmers a winning hand”. 

Above-average rainfall in 2020 had set up a good winter crop along with higher-than-usual moisture to open 2021 and significantly increased storages across the Murray Darling Basin. 

“This is improving broad-acre farm incomes, boosting locally-grown feed and underpinning better water allocations for irrigators,” Mr Hunt said. 

Simultaneously, the report says, while the La Nina weather conditions have been positive for much of Australia, they have “crimped the production prospects of competitors offshore”, with large parts of the US, Latin America and eastern Europe unusually dry. 

This had helped to significantly tighten international markets and increase global commodity prices, Mr Hunt said. 

China tensions 

While “mother nature” is supporting Australian farmers at the moment, the report says, “the Chinese government is in a less generous mood”, with tensions between the two countries showing no sign of easing. 

“Australian barley, wine and timber exports into China remain effectively blocked as we enter 2021,” Mr Hunt said, “while informal impediments appear to be constraining shipments of cotton and lobsters.” 

The report says the loss of some of Australia’s agricultural trade with China is now evident in data, with November 2020 shipments to China falling 33 per cent below the previous year’s (albeit unusually large) value. Although Rabobank notes, a 10 per cent November month-on-month fall in shipments to China is probably more representative of the impact of the geopolitical tensions. 

However, while the spectre of further loss of access to China hangs heavily over the Australian agricultural industry, Mr Hunt said, “the data to date suggests that many products are still flowing through”, with AUD 800 million worth of food and agri products still shipped to China in November last year and preliminary data showing exceptionally strong wheat exports, at least, in December. 

Major transitions ahead 

Reducing the sector’s reliance on the Chinese market is one of three major transitions the report identifies that will need to be negotiated by Australian agriculture in the year ahead. The others are recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting to a market more focused on sustainability. 

“Whether China continues to reduce its purchases of Australian food and agri products in coming years – as we think likely – or not,” Mr Hunt said, “the risks of supplying this market have definitely increased.” 

“2021 will likely mark a watershed year, in which Australia starts to reduce its reliance on China, voluntarily or otherwise.” 

Positively, the report says, prevailing global market settings – with strong demand, limited supply and high prices for agricultural commodities – make this challenge seem less daunting at the current time. 

“But reorientation to reduce reliance on China is a multi-year challenge that will still be ongoing when the market cycle inevitably turns again,” Mr Hunt said. 

The year ahead would also require a delicate transition as governments looked to withdraw assistance measures for consumers that had propped up end demand for food and fibre during the global pandemic. 

“If this is messed up, we could easily see demand for food and agricultural products soften during this transition,” Mr Hunt said. 

An increasing focus on environmental sustainability also looms large in 2021, the report says. 

“COVID-19 took the headlines from climate in 2020, but it didn’t alter the commitment of key players throughout the F&A (food and agri) supply chain to mitigate climate change, prepare for its risk and find mechanisms to reduce and/or recoup the costs of adjustment,” Mr Hunt said. 

“If the pandemic wanes in late 2021 as hoped, this quest will again rise to the fore, creating both opportunities and challenges. And it may prove to be the greatest of all the transitions facing the sector.”

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail