Eco-Farms

Australia’s biggest organic distributor offering fresh organic fruit and vegetables, as well as over 600 organic grocery lines.

Eco-Farms, Carole Park, Brisbane

In July, we had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Davis and the team at Eco-Farms in Carole Park, Brisbane. As National Account Manager, Rachel is not only across Eco-Farms’ business model and future aspirations, but has been actively engaged in the organics industry for over 15 years; during which time she has developed an interest in environmental sustainability and is passionate about certification in Australia.

Eco-Farms is Australia’s biggest organic distributor offering fresh organic fruit and vegetables, as well as over 600 organic grocery lines. With the head office in Sydney, their Carole Park location is a central hub servicing both Queensland and Northern NSW and the site, including operations and sales, is run by Tarni Finnigan, State Manager who has been with Eco-Farms since the QLD Branch first opened back in June 2004.

The company operates over three main departments – fresh wholesale produce, fresh prepack produce and grocery. Many producers send direct to the warehouse, allowing Eco-Farms to curate and maintain strong relationships with loyal, local producers. Eco-Farms first became certified organic over 25 years ago.

Where

Carole Park, Brisbane, QLD

With the head office in Sydney, Eco-Farm’s Carole Park location is a central hub servicing both Queensland and Northern NSW.

When

Established in 1986

Eco-Farms was founded in 1986 on the firm belief that everyone should have a greater choice of organic foods available.

Who

Four distribution centres around the country with over 200 employees.

Eco-Farms is Australia’s biggest Organic distributor offering fresh organic fruit & vegetables as well as over 600 Organic grocery lines.

What’s the story behind Eco-Farms?

“Eco-Farms started in the late 80’s and has grown considerably since then. Starting out predominantly with a fresh produce offering, Eco-Farms was an early pioneer of mainstreaming organic fresh fruit and vegetables into mainstream supermarkets. Grocery lines were complimentary to the produce and we also distributed other brands. In the late 2000’s our brand Absolute Organic was launched and the grocery part of our business grew to where it is today.”

Warehouse Tour

After a quick tour of the main office, Rachel introduced us to the first of many climate controlled warehousing ‘rooms’. A cool 15ºC, the room contained a selection of fresh produce including sweet potatoes from northern NSW – with around 95% of Eco-Farm’s fresh produce being certified organic.

Rachel explained that although some clients send their produce direct to the warehouse, many growers and producers prefer to send their products to the central markets in each state, which is then collected by Eco-Farms and delivered back to the closest Eco-Farms warehouse for distribution.

Watch the Eco-Farms warehouse tour here.

The Cold Room

Regretting our choice of clothing, we moved into the much cooler 2ºC room which provides the ideal climate for the storage of fresh produce such as apples, carrots, leeks, salad and mouth-watering strawberries from the Sunshine Coast.

Rachel highlighted the clear and concise labelling system for each product throughout the warehouse. With labels on each box or pallet, not only does this help with picking and packing for orders, but also provides complete transparency and traceability for the organic standard – with certified organic produce stored separately to ensure there are no mix-ups for orders.

95% Certified Organic

Around 95% of Eco-Farm’s fresh produce is certified organic – making Eco-Farms a one-stop-shop for everything organic.

Eco-Farms offers a range of fresh organic fruit and vegetables, as well as over 600 organic grocery lines.

Grocery makes up around 60% of Eco-Farms business, with the other 40% from their grocery items. These include pantry staples such as cereals, nuts, grains, flours and dried food, as well as tinned food, beverages and organic snacks and treats.

How do you differ from other organic wholesalers?

“Eco-Farms distributes a full range of seasonal bulk and pre-packed fresh fruit and vegetables and a comprehensive range of groceries. We have our own brands like Absolute Organic, Jolly Organic and Eco Organic and we also distribute some third-party brands. Being able to offer a comprehensive organic range sets Eco-Farms apart from other wholesale distributors, who only provide one offering or just one comprehensive range.”

Eco-Farms is a one-stop-shop for everything organic.

Sustainability in Focus

Acknowledging the use of plastic packaging on some of the certified organic produce, Rachel added that Eco-Farms are committed to a sustainable future and have already implemented several practices including recycling, reducing and reusing where possible, as well as replacing Styrofoam trays with biodegradable, compostable pulp trays to further reduce their environmental impact.

“In 2015 we have switched from Styrofoam trays to compostable pulp trays, which has removed approximately 350,000 polystyrene trays from land-fill per year. We have also switched all our paper labels to FSC certified, which means our average of 300,000 labels per year now come from well-managed forests.

 

We have moved to Recycled PET for packaging where possible. As an example, for our prepacked dates we have removed over 200,000 single use plastic punnets from land-fill in just the last year.

 

Sustainability is a high priority for us with recycling, reducing and reusing materials whenever possible. We also have a dedicated team that is constantly researching for sustainable materials and procedures.”

Sustainability is a high priority for us with recycling, reducing and reusing materials whenever

Why do you think certification is important when it comes to organics?

Recognising the Australian Organic ‘Bud’ certification logo on many of the products stored in the warehouse, Rachel added that being certified as a business for over 25 years has helped growers and producers to approach Eco-Farms, providing confidence in their brand and long-lasting relationships with their clients.

“Certification is critical for our business to ensure what we are offering comes with a 100% guarantee. The word organic can be used to describe lots of different things in the world and with no governing body able to legislate the use of the word (in Australia), being certified by a recognised certification body is the only way to be able to back up our claims of organic.”

Want to learn more about Eco-Farms and Absolute Organic?

 

Check out their website:

www.ecofarms.com.au

www.absoluteorganic.com.au