It pays to be a supplier to Fruit & Veg City.
Just ask Engedi business owner Michael Pause.
He has been able to increase the size of his farmland as well as his workforce as a result of becoming a supplier to the fruit and vegetable company about 17 years ago.
Pause’s farm Brockenhurst provides Fruit & Veg City stores with lettuce and salad packs.
His farm also grows vegetables, manufactures animal accessories, and runs a compost facility.
According to Pause, his sales to Fruit & Veg City have been the backbone of the growth at Brockenhurst since he first started supplying the outlet with his products way back in 1997.
“The relationship has enabled me to grow from a farm of 18 ha to two farms of 32 and 43 ha respectively,” he says.
He has also been able to increase his staff count from eight to about 60 people as a result of his contract with Fruit & Veg.
Pause says he was first introduced to Fruit & Veg through a friend.
“The company was looking for a supplier and I decided to approach them. I first did all my research, such as finding out what certification I needed to have, before I applied,” says Pause.
He also offered to do a few trial runs, supplying the company with his products, which enabled it to assess his quality and reliability.
In this way, he managed to prove his capabilities to Fruit & Veg. Much of the support Brockenhurst received from Fruit & Veg City has been indirect.
“We were able to attain higher specifications and meet new legislation requirements because of the input and assistance we received from Fruit & Veg.
The staff and managers are like family. You really feel like you belong,” says Pause.
He says business owners that want to become suppliers to Fruit & Veg City must ensure that they provide good-quality products or services.
Fruit & Veg City not only offers small businesses opportunities to supply fresh fruit and vegetables, but also groceries and products for its bakeries and butcheries.
There are now also additional opportunities for small business owners that have come about through Fruit & Veg’s acquisition of Diamond Liquors, Food Lover’s Market, and its FreshStop stores, which are located on Caltex forecourts.
According to Pause, Brockenhurst also introduced a new form of farming in 1996, called grown-free farming.
Says Pause: “Grown-free farming is a crossover between biological farming and organic farming, combined with a rest cycle.”
The emphasis is on using environmentally compatible products to help nature do its work.
“There is continual experimenting being done, and the results are phenomenal, says Pause”
He says good farmers are old farmers who know their lands and their crops and recognise the seasons.