Gourmet food company Random Harvest is offering UK food lovers an even better taste of fine Australian fare this European winter. The brand is expanding its range in London’s Harrods for the holidays.
With Austrade’s help, Random Harvest will now launch its products in the Irish market. ‘Our new partnership, announced in October 2023, with Irish gourmet retailer Donnybrook Fair opens doors into this exciting new market,’ says Matthew Jinks, CEO of Random Harvest.
Autumn is a busy time of year for Random Harvest, explains Jinks. ‘Seasonal and corporate gifting is a massive part of our business. We take pride in developing unique and beautifully packaged produce that people want to give as gifts.
‘Gifts are a great way to let new customers sample our products,’ he adds. ‘When people who’ve received our products as gifts love the taste, they call us or look to find where they can buy more.’
Random Harvest realised some years ago that to grow, it needed to reach export markets. Even for a 40-year-old company with strong domestic brand recognition, that journey can be challenging.
‘It took a while to get in front of some buyers,’ notes Jinks. ‘Then in 2019 we had orders and a container ready to ship when the pandemic put that on hold.’
Now that global trade has resumed, Austrade has made new introductions and invited Random Harvest to the 2023 International Food & Drink Event (IFE).
Trade fairs are important to get products in front of buyers, says Jinks.
‘Austrade did a brilliant job at IFE. We’ve also learned it’s not enough just to turn up. We need to be prepared and arrange meetings with key buyers to really make the most of the opportunity.
‘Making connections has been key for us. Alberto has been amazing. He has great industry contacts and has worked hard to introduce us to key buyers. This includes the successful introduction to our new Irish partner Donnybrook Fair. He has presented some very exciting opportunities for a small company like ours.’
The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) has assisted Australian exporters like Random Harvest, says Alberto Oliva Macias, Austrade Senior Business Development Manager for the UK and Ireland.
‘The FTA removes tariffs on over 99% of Australian goods exported to the UK. The removal of tariffs on Australian olive oil makes Random Harvest products more competitive in the UK market. In fact, the FTA has renewed UK buyers’ interest in a variety of Australian produce. It is now easier to get in front of them,’ says Oliva Macias.
In 2021, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO predicted that the food and beverage market would be shaped by customer desire ‘to know where their food has come from, and how it has been produced.’
‘Being all natural is becoming an important differentiator for Random Harvest,’ explains Jinks.
‘But it’s something we’ve always done as a natural part of creating a better product. We use real food with no fillers or artificial colours or flavours. It’s all gluten-free. We only work with artisan producers in regional areas.
‘Customers and retailers are drawn to the beautiful provenance stories behind our products,’ he adds. ‘Some want to know where in Australia the mangoes are grown, or the truffles are farmed. Others want to hear about our wild-harvested salt from a pristine 5-million-year-old Western Australian lake, or how we developed our mustard recipe. Every one of our products has a story.
‘Running our business in a sustainable way is also important,’ continues Jinks. ‘Solar panels on our production facility in Australia supply 100% of our power needs. The warehouse facilities of our UK distributor Sapphire Brands are also 100% powered by new solar panels with storage capacity.’
While presentation, provenance and sustainability are important, taste is what wins customers.
Most of Random Harvest’s product development is done in-house. But customers also play an important role in suggesting new flavours or variations.
As a family-owned company, Random Harvest has considerable flexibility to respond to requests, or adapt products to different markets and taste preferences.
‘We are willing to push the envelope on flavours,’ says Jinks. ‘We weren’t sure how people would respond to cranberry and orange balsamic vinegar, for example. But it’s turned out to be one of our bestsellers.
‘We also take pride in our truffle range. It took us 2 years to develop the perfect truffle hot sauce and get the balance right. We work with local Australian truffle growers and use extra virgin olive oil produced in Australia’s Hunter Valley.’