The direct interaction with customers has helped a Queensland fresh produce delivery service build-up a strong local customer base through focusing on "top-class" satisfaction, according to its owner.
Efresh supplies fresh produce to restaurants, foodservice and community facilities, including aged care and child care centres, and Owner Yoshi Okada says the direct contact with the customer is important.
"We have our own pickers, own drivers and own vehicles - we don't outsource any deliveries to other companies," he said. "We have a customer-focused business here, so we are looking after the client as best we can. Other companies don't deal face-to-face with the customer, which is what we do. For example, restaurants give us the keys to their property and we deliver to the fridge so when the chefs come into start work it is all ready to go in their coolroom. We try to make our deliveries before all the staff even get into the restaurants."
With more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, Efresh aims to supply a wide range of wholesale produce as well as prepared fruit and vegetables.
The company services homes or businesses within Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba areas, and while restaurants and businesses make up the most of sales, Efresh experienced a jump in home deliveries especially with the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions at the end of March.
"At that point, we didn't have any restaurants open due to lockdown," Mr Okada said. "But at that moment, we had a huge demand for deliveries to people's homes. This was very different for us, as we mostly had restaurants. Before that, we had a lot of interest for businesses asking us to deliver to their venues. So, the demand for fresh produce deliveries has always been very high. However, sales-wise, we were down 95 per cent in the first week of the lockdown, which was very difficult for us. Luckily enough, now most of the business has come back, although we are still around 10 per cent of businesses haven't opened yet. As for the rest of society, they don't feel as at-risk, and home orders are getting less."
While the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables was considered an essential service by the Australian Federal Government, Efresh still found that accessing supply at the start of coronavirus restrictions was quite difficult, as most of the supply into Brisbane came from New South Wales and Victoria - or even imported from overseas countries.
The produce in the orders is a little different, depending on whether the customer is at home or in a restaurant, according to Mr Okada.
"Chefs are using a lot of exotic items; like dragonfruit or starfruit - all sorts of exotic items," he explained. "That demand is always there for this range, even though in the markets it is seasonal. But we are definitely getting a lot of enquiries for these two items. Getting items during COVID was challenging, for example, garlic which comes from China. We had to rely on local garlic - which is five times the price."
The company also exports fresh produce, facilitated by Mr Okada's business partner Glenn Norton.
"We supply to Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, Singapore and other east-Asian countries," Mr Okada said. "We mainly export avocados, blueberries, mangoes and citrus. Now we are doing avocados from a grower in Toowoomba, and the mango season is coming up very soon."