Teresa Nguyen, manager, Oriental Produce, Sydney Markets
Tell me about Oriental Produce
Oriental Produce is a family-owned fresh produce wholesaler specialising in Asian vegetables and exotic fruits.
My husband and I started the business 13 years ago, when we bought a small stand at the Sydney Markets for me to run.
Two years ago, we acquired Global Fruit Supply, which my husband Hung Do runs, while I continue to manage Oriental Produce as separate businesses.
What do you specialise in?
We specialise in Asian fruit and vegetables, a very small niche market when we started, which continues to grow as people become more adventurous with the fruit and vegetables that they buy.
We are a family run business and we always go that extra mile for our customers.
Who are your customers?
We supply predominantly to independent retailers as well as some restaurants and providores. Prior to COVID-19 we also supplied to cruise ships but of course this business is on hold at the moment.
We also work in conjunction with other agents around in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to supply good quality Asian produce.
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My focus is always on the quality of our produce. I may charge a little more than others, even my husband, but my service and quality control is the most important thing for me and something that my customers can always rely on.
If I have to go through a complete palette to find the quality that a customer expects, I will. They trust me to supply the best.
What sets your business apart from other wholesalers?
As well as selling Asian fruit and vegetables, an important part of my job is educating new and existing customers about new varieties and how to use our produce in the best way.
This sets our business apart from other Asian wholesalers who are only interested in sales. A good example is bitter melon, which has many health benefits, unknown to most Australians who have never tried.
It is good for diabetes and neutralises toxins in the system
I also have the advantage of being one of the few women at the market. I am approachable, so people come to see me because they know that I will spend that extra time with them to get their order right and deliver quality at all times.
Where do you source your produce from?
We follow the growing seasons and buy our produce from Darwin in the winter months, from October onwards from Queensland, and then as their season finishes we buy from our local growers.
The industry has changed over the years as we have more growers to meet the increasing demand for Asian fruit and vegetables.
Many of our growers are also growing new varieties and extending their growing seasons to meet market demand. We have the trust of our growers and always stand by our word.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
I have been in the industry for over 20 years. I actually got into the industry by accident.
I was working in an office and I really wanted to backpack around the world but being Vietnamese, I wasn't allowed the freedom to do this.
The only way I could do it was to go to work for my brother to keep my family happy. So, I worked for him for about four months or so and then I left to go travelling for six months.
When I returned I gave up my office job to work for my brother full time.
Before we went out on our own my husband and I worked for my brother running his stand at the market.
We decided that there was no point working for someone else when you can work for yourself so we bought our own little stand, worked damn hard, and the business has grown from there.
What is the best thing about working at the market?
I like the freedom that comes with working for yourself. The time passes very quickly at the market because you are talking to customers, you're always on the go and there is always something different to do.
You can never take your finger off the pulse.
Working at the market has allowed us to have the lifestyle that we have - we are comfortable now whereas before we struggled to make ends meet.
What is the secret to a successful business?
Our word, and the trust that our growers and customers have in us is the key to a successful business.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
The market has changed so much and will continue to do so. When we started everyone specialised and stuck to what they were good at.
Now everyone is diversifying and adapting what they do to chase as much business as possible. Every little bit of space is being utilised.
Everyone is under pressure to look for new opportunities.
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