Australia is still in lock down, some states are seeing an easing of restrictions, but it is still far from business as usual.
Vincent Eysseric, Production and Marketing Manager at Coolibah Herbs based in Victoria saw a massive change as the company was mainly supplying the catering trade as well as doing some exports. Coolibah Herbs grows salads, herbs, baby leaf and vegetables, conventional as well as organic.
“There is next to no airfreight and most of the state borders remain closed as do pubs and restaurants. Around 60% of our produce went to the catering trade, 30% to retail and 10 for export. We are doing more to retail and still supply hospitals and care homes,” said Vincent.
The company’s turn over is down around 10% on last year, so it not too bad but still not great. “We have tried to keep as much of our workforce as possible, retaining our full-time staff and sharing the remaining work between the part timers.”
According to Vincent the most difficult thing is not knowing what is going to happen. “We can’t plan what we need to grow. It is now winter, and we need to plant so that we have a crop in three months’ time, but we don’t know if there will be a market at that point.”
There has been an uptick in herb sales in Australia as people stay at home and cook more, they are also choosing to eat more healthy foods. Vincent said that spinach sales are up 20% on where they would normally be, kale is also up as are organic products.