A FAMILY-owned micro herbs business has found a new market to help weather the COVID-19 knock-on effects from the downturn in the restaurant trade.
What's more, it's boosting employment in the region as well.
Pocket Herbs, based at Tweed Heads, has secured a supply contract with Coles after its existing customer base of restaurants dried up.
The business is recruiting more locals to help supply 40 Coles supermarkets with micro herbs, just months after slumping sales threatened to shutter the small family business.
Coles put in an order for more than 500 micro herb pots per week, including rocket, lemon balm and purple basil.
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Pocket Herbs founder, Iain Reynolds, said the partnership had given the business the certainty it needed to keep employing locals at this difficult time.
"We are incredibly grateful for the support Coles has given us over the last couple of months," Mr Reynolds said.
"When COVID-19 first hit we were forced to let go of two-thirds of our staff and had started to lose hope for the future.
"Seeing more customers buying and loving our product gives us hope for the future of our business.
"We were able to hire back four of our staff members and look forward to further developing our relationship with Coles to bring our product to shoppers across Australia.
"This has also been a great opportunity for us to enter the retail market and sell our sustainably-grown micro herbs direct to the consumer, which is very exciting."
It comes at a time when recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 29 per cent of 1022 households surveyed had ordered less take away meals during the period of confinement.
There has been 38 per cent opting to cook and bake more foods while 13 per cent are eating more fruit and vegetables in their diet.
Coles category manager, Andrew Costa, said he was delighted to see the positive response from customers.
"When we saw the challenges faced by Pocket Herbs brought about by COVID-19, we were keen to do what we could do to support them," he said.
"The product they produce is outstanding and we were keen to give our customers something different to add to their cooking."
"It's great that we've been able to stock a fresh Australian product that our customers love and help support a small grower at this difficult time -- the herbs are doing really well, and we've received some excellent customer feedback."
The herbs come in 10 different varieties and are available at two for $5 at 40 stores across Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Armadale and Port Macquarie.