Tell me about Box Fresh
About 15 years ago I was working as a chef and I used to go out to the markets to source fresh produce for the restaurant.
I wasn't the head chef but given that I had direct access to the fresh produce, I was handed a certain amount of the decision making and really enjoyed it.
I started putting together produce boxes for friends and neighbours and Box Fresh grew from there.
We work out of a warehouse at the markets, and were one of the first box delivery services in Sydney.
As the box segment of the industry grew I started specialising in corporate fruit boxes, with home delivery making up about 20 per cent of the business until COVID hit.
What do you specialise in?
Our main part of the business is usually the provision of Corporate Fruit Boxes, however when COVID hit, we literally transformed overnight to deliver curated seasonal boxes of the best locally grown and produced fruit and vegetables direct from Sydney Market to our customers' homes.
What sets your business apart from other delivery services?
Our team is a bunch of hardcore produce (and coffee) lovers dedicated to customer service.
Our customers are more than just a number to us; our team knows them by name.
They know their likes, dislikes, and the extras like bread and other specialties that they like to order.
We have dedicated a lot of resources to ensure that our customer service is second to none.
We spend time to make sure that our customers get what they want rather than fixing problems that have gone wrong.
Where do you source your produce from?
All of our produce is sourced directly from Sydney Markets.
Having a warehouse in the market itself is also an added bonus as we can really control the quality of the produce that we receive.
It is as easy as turning the order around if the quality is not up to scratch.
Who are your customers?
Our corporate customers come from a wide range of business sectors, and we deliver to anyone and everyone.
Of course while the corporate side is slow at the moment, we are still delivering some home produce boxes, and it is gradually picking up as people go back into the office.
I don't think it will be back to "business as usual" until the new year.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
I was a chef, working in restaurant and looking for a way to get out.
I always wanted to run my own business, and sourcing good produce and dealing with logistics was something I knew so starting Box Fresh just made sense.
What do you enjoy about the market?
It's great to be able to do quality control in real time and not have to weigh up the decision about the impact of having to load everything back on a truck to bring it back to market to source something else of quality.
You wouldn't do that for three boxes of broccoli, which means that your would just make do with the lesser quality produce. We just won't settle for that.
What's changed about the market over the years?
It's certainly got a bit more PC (politically correct). The younger generation is now open to change, and they are open to new customers and new ideas.
Some of the operators have only just stopped using faxes for orders.
How has Covid-19 affected the business?
Overnight we moved from delivering corporate fruit boxes to delivering curated boxes of fresh produce to our customer's home, part of the business that prior to lockdown comprised only about 20 per cent of our business.
What's the most challenging part of the industry?
We live in a world where everyone wants everything all the time, so educating our customers about seasonality is a challenge especially when they want to buy local.
What is the secret to a successful business?
Listen to your customer base, and don't pay too much attention to your opposition because you can get lost that way.
Do what you do and do the best you can.
Look out for your customers and don't be too greedy.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
I don't think the fruit and vegetable industry as whole will change that much. I think where people get their produce and how it arrives at their home will change, but I don't think what people want will change.
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