Greg Afif, director, Nova Fresh, Northcote, Melbourne
Tell me about Nova Fresh
Nova Fresh is a local family-owned providoring business, which has been operating for about six years.
We are a small boutique business who know our customers very well. In fact, I did all the deliveries myself for the first three years so I know our customers very well.
We have always supplied fruit boxes but the recent increased demand for our box delivery service has been amazing; truly overwhelming due to the extended lockdown in Victoria.
What do you specialise in?
We only buy Australian produce and try to buy local, Victorian grown produce where we can.
Who are your customers?
We supply local cafes and restaurants and we have an impressive list of notable clientele.
As a trained chef by trade I understand what fresh fruit and veg delivered on time means to a productive kitchen.
What sets your business apart from other providores?
Our personal service does set us apart from some of the larger providores, especially at the moment with people in lockdown.
We try to take the time to communicate and chat with our customers and listen to their stories because so many people are feeling isolated, lonely and scared at the moment.
Where do you source your produce from?
I do most of our buying which means that I am up at 3am every morning to hand pick quality fruit and vegetables at the Melbourne Market in Epping, which we supply at the best possible price.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
I originally trained and worked as a chef for 12 years.
Unfortunately, my father then got cancer, so I started working for a providore at the market which gave me the time to do to his medical appointments.
What is the best thing about working at the market?
I really like going to the market every morning.
I love getting to know people and have built some great friendships over the years. I also really enjoy being up and about while most of Melbourne is still sleeping.
What do you like about working with fresh produce?
I love the connection to the earth that working with fresh produce gives you. One day I wouldn't mind becoming a grower myself.
How has the business adapted to the Coronavirus lockdown?
Our business has completely shifted from supplying the hospitality industry to supplying home-delivered fruit boxes.
People are appreciative of the service and quality of the produce and we always try to add a little surprise to their day by adding a mango or flowers.
What is the secret to a successful business?
Caring about what you do and adapting to changes in the market are the keys to a successful business.
For example, Coronavirus has pushed me to be more computer literate than ever, something I had been avoiding.
Lockdown has made it necessary to communicate more electronically; to use email and social media, previously something I rarely did.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
We have had some challenging times, and no doubt there are more ahead.
We need to learn from the changes we have made in the way we do business and take these changes into the future with us.
Fortunately for the industry, we are offering an essential service and people will always need to eat.
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