When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Melissa and Reuben Woods of Mount Maunganui were quick to identify the evolving problem within the food and beverage industry. With supply and distribution chains being affected, farmers, producers and growers were out of stock (or had too much), and their usual customers like restaurants and cafes had shut up shop.
The Woods’ Kiwi ingenuity kicked in, and they realised the need for food and beverage companies to find a new market, fast. The Modern Forager was born, allowing producers to move stock by connecting with New Zealand food lovers able to ‘forage’ for quality products via the platform.
The platform is as a champion for the smaller companies who are an important part of New Zealand’s food ecosystem, “that’s where the creativity happens,” Woods says.
“Just look at the growth of Pic’s Peanut Butter leading to a range of innovative food businesses in Nelson, like Chia Sisters, or Garage Project leading to the explosion of craft beer brands in Wellington. Forage online, shop online and support local.”
Knowing that many smaller brands don’t have consumer-facing brands or an established eCommerce presence, The Modern Forager is also able to provide branding, marketing, and sustainable packaging advice; the Woods are owners of an award-winning branding agency.
The platform is also a practical solution to products on supermarket shelves selling out, and long wait times to shop. Melissa Woods says “we want to keep people in New Zealand safe at home. “Rather than worrying about needing to go out and get the food, they’re dealing direct with the farmer, producer or grower”.
One New Zealand producer benefiting from The Modern Forager are Nelson-based Chia Sisters Chloe and Florence Van Dyke who create nutritional drinks. Their company has experienced a 60 per cent drop in sales due to cafés shutting their doors for at least four weeks.
“Now is the time to go local, for everyone. This alone will have a great impact on the ability of New Zealand to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 emergency. Looking back, it will be something we can be proud of”, Florence says.
To explore what food and drinks our backyard has to offer, visit The Modern Forager here.
If you would like to list your business on the Modern Forager, please contact the Woods at [email protected].