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Q&A: The organic pioneers still growing 30 years down the track

Inside FMCG’s sister title Inside Small Business met Adriana Krueger whose family business, Organic & Quality Foods, is Queensland’s oldest organic home-delivery service.

ISB: Please tell us about the background of the business, and what prompted you to start out as a frozen juice delivery business.

AK: We actually started because the owner Rob Maclachlan was looking for some extra income. Living in Sydney in the mid 80’s real estate prices were already exceedingly high and it seemed that on a teacher’s salary it would be almost impossible to purchase real estate in Sydney. Looking for the second job we came across a gentleman who used to be Mr. Juicy back in the 60’s and Rob started to work on a casual basis with him. He offered Rob the opportunity to start the frozen fruit juice business in Queensland. So, in 1987 we packed up and moved up there and started selling frozen fruit juice.

ISB: When did you pivot to providing organic produce, and what was the inspiration behind that move?

AK: Selling frozen fruit juice was not as easy as anticipated so we gradually diversified. The Sydney owner of the business had to close down. We managed to keep going in Brisbane by diversifying into lots of other products. In the very early days we came across customers who were looking for organic food so we decided to get involved in supplying that. It turned out to be a great idea because the business grew enormously as there were very few genuine organic providers around at that time.

ISB: How has the business developed since then?

AK: Once we started selling organics the business started growing steadily. We used to call all our customers to get their orders each week but with the advant of the internet and online ordering we gradually switched over to that, and accepting payments by credit card. We extended our range by diversifying into organic products including fruit and vegetables, meat, chicken, grains, flours and cereals. When we introduced refrigerated vehicles they were specially fitted to enable us to deliver organic products to people’s homes.

ISB: What role has being a part of the Assure Organic Buying Group played in the development of the business?

AK: When we started out organic produce was hard to come by but we came across a group of shops that had started their own buying group to secure genuine organic produce. We were accepted as a member of this group, called Assure. Joining them helped us grow enormously because we had access to a great variety of organic food and because working as a group of shops and businesses gave us the buying power to make it viable to source food direct from organic growers.

ISB: What impact did Covid have on the business, and how did you manage to overcome those challenges?

AK: When Covid hit we were innundated with requests and orders from new customers. Our sales almost doubled within a fortnight. This stretched our resources to such an extent that we actually had to stop servicing new customers and advise them online that we were temporarily unable to help them given the huge demand for a short time. We had so many customers who were really just after home delivery of food. I don’t believe that they were really concerned as to whether it was organic or not. We also went through so much stock that we had to find new suppliers to be able to meet demand.

ISB: And, finally, what is your vision for the development of the business in the next couple of years?

AK: To steadily continue growing the business, while ensuring that we always do the right thing and only supply the best quality, certified genuine organic foods to our customers. We’ll continue to look after them to the best of our ability and aim to ride the economic ups and downs that the future may hold.

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