Prepare to meet the maker...

FNQ Food take time out at one of SEQs key food industry events...

We had the pleasure of attending the Food Agribusiness Network (FAN) Meet The Maker (MTM) expo down on the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday.  This event has become the centerpiece in B2B activity for the Sunshine Coast’s many regional food and drink producers and is an object lesson in innovation, collaboration and harnessing growth. Food producers at all stages of their commercial evolution were all represented, from small one person local operations to diverse international companies.  The common threads were diversification of product or ‘value adding’, a desire to develop new markets and an overwhelming passion, not only for those representing their own products but also a mutual support and enthusiasm for other operators. More on FAN and Meet The Maker can be found here.

The stories of innovation and determination dominated much of the dialogue and we were privileged to meet and speak with a number of the exhibitors. In these days of social media, constant updates and competing content we often forget how important the simple act of meeting, bonding and listening are to the growth of individual and collective intelligence. Having a chin-wag with like minded people is great, and events like this prove it!

FNQ Food Magazine's Jodie Ferrero with Terri Waller Founder of SevGen

Out of the many, some businesses stood out, like the social enterprise run by SevGen with the D-Time enterprises group and ‘impact shopping’ now in their twelfth year, have been reinventing the way that support is given to those areas of society that require it. Food commerce, agribusiness and direct product marketing drive revenue streams from items like coffee beans, teas, salt/pepper, native foods, along with a number of other enterprises. The profits from which can be applied with great agility where they are needed. For more about this remarkable enterprise visit the SevGen website.

Graeme and the silver medal cider!

Another great story came out of company Nutri-Tech Solutions leaders in the field of nutrition dense farming. As if that wasn’t enough of a unique perspective on agriculture, the vagaries of the market last year left them with a quandary as to what to do with many, many thousands of apples. The answer was to juice and slightly more excitingly to create a made on premise cider.  This cider went on to take out the silver medal at the global cider awards, not bad for their first attempt, can’t wait for year two! Read about the great work of Nutritional Farms and their inspirational product range at their website.

A great coffee from First Batch.

We had a great chat and a great coffee with regional roasters First Batch.  They looked at the market and responded to the most common complaint faced by small batch roasters, that of consistency.  Taking this to heart they worked on a formula that would eradicate as many variables as possible from the bean to cup experience. From using mechanically assisted roasting to ensure consistent batches to providing regular barista training on site across their many outlets.  This ensures that every time you see First Batch you can expect a very good and familiar cup-a-Joe! For more information on delicious coffee, products and training go here.

Cinnamon Morrissey and her son, William.

We also had a chance to meet the delightfully named Cinnamon Morrissey, a passionate food entrepreneur whose food business grew from creating an allergen free alternative to Vegemite that would not exacerbate the food intolerances of her young son William. Over a five year period Cinnamon’s business leapt from her kitchen table and her brand ‘Everymite’ can now be found in over 700 stores nationally and her business has diversified into a number of other products all espousing her founding values of Australian organic ingredients with no artificial additives. Find more about the Everymite story and Everyorganics other products range here.

Another worthy of note is our very own southern agency client ‘The Noosa Forager’ a fantastic small business catering enterprise focusing on creating platters and private functions drawing entirely from local ingredients and products. Founded and run by the irrepressible chef Dannielle Young, the company has become the perfect example of how to achieve both style and content creating the most amazing grazing boxes packed with delightful local products curated into delectable layouts.  For more on the beautiful and tasty work of The Noosa Forager visit here.

These are just a few from the hundreds that were present, and feedback from the exhibitors reported positive enquiries from the myriad of buyers present and also developed stronger ties with their regional food industry companions.

Our visit to MTM was not only driven by curiosity as, although still a way off, we are looking to facilitate a similar showcase here in the Far North.  We believe the diversity, enthusiasm and incredible stories that we uncover on our travels across our own region would easily lend themselves both commercial and consumer facing expos, so watch this space!