6th April 2022 By Jonathan Mitchell | firstname.lastname@example.org | @foodtickernz
A gluten-free date spread start-up is carefully balancing production capacity with retail growth to get a solid foundation in New Zealand before it attempts a move across the Tasman.
Auckland-based Ola Berezhnaia launched Datella in July last year and has since secured distribution in speciality stores, such as Commonsense Organics and Iko Iko, as well as making inroads with Woolworths’ FreshChoice supermarkets in Auckland.
Online sales comprises supermarket challenger Supie, as well as Datella’s own website.
Berezhnaia told the Ticker her focus was building out the retail channel with the goal of signing up some New World supermarkets this year, confirming New World Tauranga had just agreed to place an order.
“As a small supplier, I need to be really careful about how many stores I bring on board because I am limited in my production volumes, so I’m taking one step at a time,” she said.
“The goal is to get into all FreshChoice outlets, then New World and Countdown.”
Berezhnaia currently produced four SKUs, leasing commercial kitchen space at the Bread and Butter bakery in Grey Lynn two to three times a month, using dates supplied by Ceres Organics.
She has self-funded the business from her full-time job at barcode and product data business GS1 New Zealand, as well as receiving government Covid-19 subsidies, and securing $7000 through the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau business support package for marketing.
“That covers my expenses and scale-up for at least the next six months,” Berezhnaia said.
The focus was on growing at home before considering expansion to Australia.
Revenue since launch last year was about $8000, with about 700 to 800 jars sold in retail stores and about 200 online.
Berezhnaia said she was working about 20 to 30 hours a week on Datella, in addition to her 40-hour week with GS1, with a view to eventually focus full-time on the business and bringing onboard a contract manufacturer once it stocked in more supermarkets.
The short-term plan was to work with digital marketing agency Mark Collins to boost the company profile online and start in-store tastings at supermarkets.