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Growing business in new ways

14/05/2020

When hospitality doors were closed due to COVID-19, Peal Produce opened a new window of opportunity and started a home delivery service.

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If you’ve eaten at a Newcastle restaurant or café, chances are you’ve enjoyed locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables supplied by Peal Produce.

For more than 25 years, Peal Produce has been feeding the Hunter’s thriving hospitality industry with quality and gourmet produce bought directly from regional farmers.

For 18 of those 25 years, Marsha Griffiths has worked as officer manager alongside Ian Better (known as Bluey), who worked as a full time employee for 10 years before taking over as owner of the business in 2010.

A normal week for the team would always bring some level of uncertainty around weather conditions, availability of produce and pricing, but COVID-19 has been something different altogether.

“The hardest thing with this current situation is we couldn’t do anything to avoid the downturn in business. Restaurants and cafes were forced to shut their doors, and as a result, our business no longer had any customers. We went from delivering to over 40 establishments a day, to just 8 that would order sporadically from week to week,” Marsha said.

“It has been an incredibly stressful time and massive downturn for the business. Each member of the Peal Produce team has a family to support and the worry of the business not surviving has touched everyone.”

In order to keep their doors open, the Peal Produce team came up with the idea of home delivery and took to social media the night that the Prime Minister announced changes to restaurants.

“With pretty much no wholesale customers, we decided to offer our service to the community by delivering fresh fruit and vegetable boxes to people’s door. This meant getting our business out there on social media, letter box drops and talking to family and friends about our plans and support,” Marsha said.

“We’ve been incredibly humbled by the support, with many of our previous customers placing home orders themselves and those that are operating have put up flyers and helped spread the word on social media.”

With home deliveries being well received by the community, Marsha said their main focus will be keeping up the momentum.

“While we continue to have demand – no matter how big or small – we look at it as a positive. We’ll keep putting our name out there, touching base with our customers and looking for ways to broaden our delivery area,” Marsha said.

“Our business manager at Newcastle Permanent has also assured us that support will be there for our new direction if we need it.”

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content.

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