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“For us taste is number one” – Farro boss Bryce Howard on NPD

16th July 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

Taste comes above all else when it comes to getting your product stocked in Auckland specialty grocery chain Farro Fresh, according to boss Bryce Howard.

The group holds an incubator-like space for emerging New Zealand’s food and beverage businesses, which Howard said means it is willing to work with suppliers to nail down other essentials like size, packaging and price if this number one criteria is met.

Bryce Howard

“Something Farro has always been proud of – which goes back to founders James and Janene Draper – is that no matter what the product is, the first thing we do is to taste it.”

“It is not about price, it is not about functionality, the question is does it taste good, and does it deliver.”

That is quite different, he added, to what might happen at larger, rival chains the chief executive of four years said.

“When you are on the other side of the fence with the other guys and you want to launch a new muesli bar it has to meet a certain price, and a certain margin. For us taste is number one.”

This means the group can go through a lengthy process working with suppliers to get their products shelf-ready – rather than what he described as the “boom or bust” situation food companies are faced with at grocery groups which just have one category review process a year.

“We have had instances of six months of development when we go back and say ‘no its not going to suit, its too small you’re going to lose it there, you can’t just launch with one SKU, you’ve got to have three, you’ve got to have the family’,” Howard said.

“We have to be lenient, we have to help some of our suppliers through this process.”

While the group, which currently has six stores in Auckland with two more in the pipeline, is open to new product purveyors knocking on its door anytime, it does hold six formal new product development meetings a year, and said if the product is right they have the ability to respond quickly.

“If someone comes to us with a really good idea and a really good product sometimes it can be five days later that we can have it on the shelf. There is nothing stopping us from working that quickly – we are not stuck in the cycle,” Howard said.

“It is an important part [of the New Zealand food system] because if we weren’t there, the question is how would the small person with the big idea and the fabulous kiwi ingenuity and can-do attitude how would they grow, how would they become the next Pure Delish?



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