A Fresh Approach

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-By Jaime McKee

Luciano Pavarotti once said that, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Eating well is pleasurable, no doubt; but in today’s world of packed schedules and long commutes, it has become a luxury of time that we can’t always afford. The joy that can come with thoughtfully preparing a meal and sitting down to enjoy it with loved ones can quickly become tiresome, a chore that must be crammed into our busy lives, and all too often we succumb instead to the temptation of the easy option – fast, takeout food which may be convenient, but which does little for our wallets, our waistlines, or our quality meal time with our families.

Australians have always appreciated our fresh, whole fruits and vegetables, and are lucky to have access to a generous growing season and some of the best natural foods in the world. Yet we are not immune to the pressures of city life or to demands on our time. For many of us, if we want to continue to enjoy fresh whole foods, we must increasingly look to new, easy ways to prepare and share them.

The team at Salad Fresh agrees. The dynamic company, with offices throughout Australia, has hit upon a winning strategy which enables “time poor” customers to enjoy the fresh whole foods they love whilst saving time in the kitchen. Essentially, Salad Fresh sources fresh vegetables from growing partners throughout the country and transforms them into ready-to-eat packaged salads of all sorts. Available in major supermarket chains such as Woolworths, Coles, and Foodworks, a variety of Salad Fresh products abound, providing consumers with plenty of options for fresh, healthy meals.

Salad Fresh Pty Ltd is the nation’s leading manufacturer in the prepared salads sector, housing two iconic retail brands – the Salad Fresh name as well as Mrs Crocket’s. The company is able to supply its products under either its own branded labels or private supermarket labels as desired. Under its Foodservice offerings, Salad Fresh is also able to provide washed and prepped produce to restaurants, takeaways and catering businesses, saving them time and money as well.

In a recent interview, CEO Peter Kemp spoke proudly of the Salad Fresh team. The privately-owned company, he says, has grown from a staff of 50 into an employer of around 700 people, and enjoys a “family culture” couched within a structure of strong policies and procedures – absolutely critical in the food industry. Every Salad Fresh employee goes through an induction process where they gain experience in every department; they receive a truly comprehensive understanding of the company, with particular emphasis on quality, safe handling, and the manufacturing process.

That manufacturing is carried out in HACCP accredited, state of the art facilities across Australia. The company supplies its products to all Australian States, and considers it a source of pride that its products truly are fresh – as Mr Kemp describes, produce makes its way from the farm to the Salad Fresh facility typically within 72 hours, and from there to the local supermarkets in a very short turnaround time. The company seeks to add value at every step in the process, never sacrificing on safety, flavour, or freshness.

Paramount to the firm’s success are the close working relationships it enjoys with its growers and suppliers. The company prides itself on buying locally, working with Australian farmers and suppliers to deliver a “100% Australian Made and owned product.” As Mr Kemp describes, the Salad Fresh manufacturing facilities are “strategically located in growing areas”, taking advantage of the produce’s inherent freshness and then ensuring it via a sophisticated and tightly controlled supply chain. It is this focus on quality, from farm to table, that truly makes Salad Fresh the best in the business.

So just what are these grower partners capable of producing? The answer is, just about anything! Working with its growers, Salad Fresh is able to produce a wide range of products: from pre-washed lettuce mixes of all types, to mixed coleslaw bags, to cut and seasoned vegetables ready for roasting or stir-frying, to ready-to-heat soups, risottos and mashes, to deli salads such as carbonara pasta, creamy potato, and gourmet bean, to bagged salads complete with sachets of dressing, dry ingredients and proteins. The company’s offerings make it easy for consumers to prepare home cooked meals using Salad Fresh products as an ingredient, side dish or standalone meal.

Of course, with such a wide range of food products comes a significant safety burden. The food industry in general is a fairly high-risk category, and as Mr Kemp states, “[the company’s] safety and quality processes are absolutely paramount”. As such, the firm employs a quality and risk management team to manage its strict hygiene standards all the way from the farm to the public, taking measures to minimise bacterial exposure risk such as temperature controls and triple washing. Products are given a shelf life of 7-10 days, and are subject to third party laboratory testing and stringent traceability records in case a recall is ever indicated.

Looking ahead, Mr Kemp is confident that Salad Fresh will continue to grow and evolve. He states that Australia has a tendency to follow the US and UK in terms of eating habits, with the difference of making fresh, whole ingredients a priority. With these factors in mind, the Salad Fresh New Product Development team, composed of food technologists and chefs, is constantly innovating and working on new products. With supermarkets serving as the company’s primary customer base, there is a desire to “change the product range every season”, and the team at Salad Fresh takes a collaborative approach to working with retailers in conducting market research and sharing resources.

Also in the works is an online training program for Salad Fresh employees, slated to come online in about 6 months’ time. The training will be compulsory, and will provide an overview of the whole of the company’s operations, processes and procedures.

From start to finish, Salad Fresh makes it a priority to maintain quality, freshness, and safety. The pride the company takes in producing a top product is evident not only in the delicious flavour, but in CEO Peter Kemp’s enthusiasm for his work. At Salad Fresh, there truly is a “quality you can taste and a freshness you can see.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

June 19, 2018, 10:52 AM AEST