Sabella Consulting explains how The Food Company’s unexpected popularity during the pandemic highlights the importance of having quality shelf staple sauce and condiment products.
Condiments are essential to the success of any dish but are often forgotten.
Whether it be the base flavour ingredients such as Garlic and Ginger or the finishing Harissa, having quality condiments at hand are critical to any kitchen.
Understanding the fundamentals of herbs and spices and their ability to enhance taste attracted Managing Director, Matthew Fletcher a trained Food Technologist to purchase The Food Company in 2004. Based in Sydenham in Sydney’s inner west, The Food Company locally manufactures a range of condiments, dressings and sauces which are both plant-based and gluten-free.
In late 2019, whilst the business was doing reasonably well, Matthew anticipated 2020 would bring a decline in sales and started to plan a rationalisation strategy. What eventuated once the pandemic hit, was the exact opposite to what was expected instead the business needed to quickly shift gears and lift production as demand for both the company’s base ingredients and sauces soared across both Retail and Foodservice.
In the Retail space, across the 2 majors, the company’s signature garlic product became popular by chance. Being an Australian based manufacturer that uses small batch processing, they were successfully positioned to pull stock forward to hold enough product to maintain supply. This unique opportunity drove consumer trial and subsequent repeat purchasing of The Food Company’s product increasing its shelf prominence to shoppers.
Even In the midst of Melbourne’s lockdown, The Food Company secured ranging for 10 products throughout the IGA store network as Matthew worked with a local distributor to get The Food Company’s product into stores so they were available to those who could not breach the 5km rule.
From a Foodservice perspective, the pivot to take-away models drove an increase in The Food Company’s Tomato, Barbeque, Sweet and Hot Chilli sauces through their distributors which Matthew largely attributes to customers returning to the “traditional menu choices” being burgers, pizzas, and kebabs.
Matthew adds that the restrictions and variability in patronage has encouraged foodservice outlets to prioritise having quality shelf staple pantry items that strike the right balance between providing minimal manual handling, low wastage whilst still retaining sufficient freshness to enhance meal preparation.
When asked about the future which feels highly uncertain, Mathew remains optimistic cleverly quipping “People still need to eat”. A key learning from The Food Company’s unexpected surge in popularity is the view that the Foodservice industry will support local companies that employ local people to produce great products.
In a world where everything is moving, stability in the pantry through great sauces and condiments is paramount.