Interview - Andrew McNab - Wholefarm
Has it ever occurred to you that water is expensive? When you need soft serve ice cream, frozen yoghurt, smoothie and milkshake bases, wouldn’t it be great to have everything in powder form so that you’re not paying for and transporting water? We spoke with Andrew McNab, Managing Director and Food Technologist at Wholefarm Australia and discovered much more about the company and its products.
FFW: Who is Wholefarm?
WHOLEFARM: We are an Australian owned family business based in Brisbane, specialising in high quality dry-blended quality food products, such as ice cream mixes, drink mixes, dessert bases and sauces.
FFW: What is the main philosophy behind the business?
WHOLEFARM: At Wholefarm our team are real foodies; we think there is no substitute for good taste, and life is too short for a bad food experience. So we make sure that everything we produce is in line with this thinking. We want our customers to flourish and enjoy themselves along the way.
FFW: Can you tell us a little about the history of the brand?
WHOLEFARM: The expertise behind Wholefarm goes back many decades, from working with specialised ingredients and flavours in Europe and the UK; fresh fruit and fruit products in the heart of New Zealand’s orchard districts; intimate knowledge of the dairy industry including New Zealand’s top dairy co-operatives; and our own experiences right in the family kitchen. Wholefarm was created in 2001 because we saw a real need for better products and a more personal and nimble customer experience than was available from the big suppliers.
FFW: What is the main thread that ties all your products together?
WHOLEFARM: All our products are quality powder-based pre-mixes, packed in air tight sachets, and supplied in robust, easily stacked and stored cartons. They have a long shelf life, without the need for refrigeration. We offer an opportunity for customers to easily add value themselves, rather than buying and transporting expensive and perishable goods. And we think our range offers great quality at a very cost-effective price for our customers.
FFW: What are the benefits to your customers in using pre-mixes?
WHOLEFARM: A big advantage is that customers are not paying for, transporting and storing ‘water’. Product can be made up as and when required, which reduces spoilage and wastage costs. And because the product is dry, airtight and lab tested with each batch, it will store safely without refrigeration, and has a good shelf life. This is also a great help where space is at a premium.
FFW: How does WholeFarm stand out above competitors?
WHOLEFARM: We have been told many times by customers that our range is so much better than other products available in the market, and that it represents much better value. We create all our own recipes with tastes and flavours that are unique to us. And because we are able to respond quickly to customer requests, with expert in house product development, we can develop new variations for own label and specific market tastes at a fraction of the time it takes other manufacturers.
FFW: Are all your products able to be made on just water?
WHOLEFARM: All our products are designed to be mixed simply with water to provide a quality taste experience just as they are. However, they are versatile enough take on other ingredients, such as milk, yoghurt, fruit pastes, and flavourings such as cocoa, coffee or chilli. We provide recipe ideas and other assistance to help our customers develop their own signature ranges, which allows them to increase their margins and maintain a competitive edge.
FFW: Can end consumers taste that their foods are made with pre-mixes?
WHOLEFARM: Our aim is that our products taste good enough to be chef made. After many disappointing personal food experiences with standard supermarket pre-mix products we don’t ever want to be put into the same category. We test our products widely to achieve the right results, with family being our fiercest critics! Our new dessert range is a good example of this, with typical reactions being “how long did this take you to make, it’s amazing”, and “can I have the recipe”.
FFW: What is the shelf life of your products?
WHOLEFARM: Typical shelf life from packing date is 18 months.
FFW: Are your pack sizes designed to be used all at once?
WHOLEFARM: Because we are wholesalers and our customers generally need volume, our products are packed in sizes designed to be used all at once. We have plans for smaller resealable packs for some items in the future, if demand is there.
FFW: What are Wholefarm’s food safety standards?
WHOLEFARM: We adhere to some of the strictest food safety standards in the world, which is why Australian product is so sought after overseas. All our products are packed in government food accredited premises that are registered with the Australian Department of Agriculture (AQIS), and which have SQF (GFSI) and HACCP accreditation. Not only that, the premises also undertake further regular audits from various corporations and certifying bodies (such as Yum and Halal) during the course of the year. Every batch of ingredient that we use has full trace back and quality certification from the original supplier, and once our product is packed it is then laboratory tested again and independently certified before being released, to ensure it meets our high expectations of quality.
FFW: Do you use local ingredients wherever possible?
WHOLEFARM: It makes sense to source local ingredients, especially when we have such great quality dairy and other foodstuffs in Australia. This is what makes our product range so attractive.
FFW: What kinds of foodservice businesses are serving Wholefarm products?
WHOLEFARM: We supply to a wide range of enterprises, both here in Australia and throughout South East Asia and beyond. Our products are suitable for big operations such as large chain store set ups, buffet and mass catering premises, hotels and the like. But they are also widely used in smaller settings as well, such as cafes, food trucks, speciality shops and markets.
FFW: What kinds of food manufacturers are using your products and how are they using them?
WHOLEFARM: Some of our product range, e.g. the desserts, can be made up and packed ready to eat, by specialist packers. These are proving ideal for catering suppliers needing quality products for customers such as airlines, cruise ships, government facilities etc. We can also supply pre-mixes in bulk for packing overseas.
FFW: How do you help your customers understand the benefits of using Wholefarm products?
WHOLEFARM: We are always happy to help our customers get started. We can provide low cost samples, smaller first orders, information sheets, recipes and other support. The best way to start is to send us an email or give us a call.
FFW: Are pre-mixes just for small businesses with a need to save money and who don’t have a lot of staff to do the food prep?
WHOLEFARM: The advantages of pre-mixes are that the hard kitchen work has already been done for you; there is no waste, and the product will always be the same. This is ideal for many kinds of situations, e.g. where space is at a premium, and staff are already busy. Pre-mixes also work well for larger operations however, where operations need to be standardised, costs efficiently monitored, waste controlled, and where time is of the essence. This then leaves staff free to add the flair that makes their own enterprise unique and loved by their customers.
FFW: Do you have any new products or flavours coming into the range?
WHOLEFARM: We always have some products in development, but we are also happy to hear from customers who need a specific product, label or flavour for a new range of their own. In these cases minimum order quantities would apply so everyone benefits economically.