Fresh is best – just ask Jasmin Robertson.
Jasmin, 29, is the driving force behind Roza’s Gourmet – a brand renowned for its natural, homegrown fresh ingredients.
Since taking over her family’s small condiments business Jasmin has grown from a boutique “backyard” operation to a multi-million dollar enterprise.
And she is now ready to take on the world.
But the road to the top has not been easy for this enterprising young Queensland entrepreneur.
Jasmin grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of Brisbane.
Her parents raised chooks to ensure a daily supply of fresh eggs and built an apiary that produced fresh honey.
An abundance of fresh herbs was growing in the gardens, most of which were used to make a range of different sauces.
So the value of using fresh produce was instilled in Jasmin from an early age.
In 1991 when Jasmin was just four years old her mother Roza launched a hobby business selling jars of all-natural homemade sauces and condiments at the end of their driveway. As the business grew she began selling the products at local markets and then started supplying local stores.
Jasmin helped out with the labelling after school and her dad was in charge of the deliveries.
Roza’s Gourmet soon became a Brisbane institution.
The product range grew from just three products to more than 40 – all Roza’s original recipes – and all 100% natural.
“Mum passed away when I was 14,” says Jasmin. “At that time she had a range of 42 products so she was definitely very creative.”
Her father Bill took over the business on his own and Jasmin worked part-time for him after leaving school while doing a business degree and later while studying acting.
She never envisaged a career in the food industry.
But that all changed in 2011 when her father decided to retire and she became the new owner and director of Roza’s Gourmet.
The business had been trading steadily under Bill’s watch, but was not really growing.
Jasmin has since taken the company to another level – increasing annual revenue by more than 600 percent.
Today Roza’s Gourmet operates from a large factory in the western suburbs of Brisbane and employs 17 people.
Their jars of pesto, chutney, mustard, dips and sauces can now be found in more than 600 specialty stores across Australia. Turnover this financial year is expected to exceed $4 million.
The brand has become widely recognised nationally and Jasmin is now setting her sights firmly on international markets.
Sights set on Asia
For the past three years the business has been supplying niche markets in Singapore and Hong Kong and Jasmin is looking to expand further into the Asian market – including mainland China.
“We have found a distributor in Shanghai and hope to supply a number of smaller niche markets in the near future,” she says.
“China is very heavily regulated, so nothing happens overnight there.”
A number of gourmet outlets in the UAE have also expressed an interest in her products.
“I’m not ruling anything out,” she says.
Earlier this year Jasmin was part of a 1000 strong delegation of business people who attended Australia Week in China.
“I learnt a lot about trading in China and made some very useful contacts,” she says.
“Australian food products have a very good reputation there.”
While exports now make up only a small percentage of her total turnover, Jasmin is looking overseas for future growth.
“The future growth of my business will definitely be in Asia,” she says. “We pride ourselves on remaining a boutique business and the Australian market is limited.
She plans to distribute a range of products through niche Asian stockists.
“It’s about quality over quantity,” she says.
Jasmin still has about 40 products in the range, staying true to her mother’s recipes.
“In the past six years since I’ve been running the business we have probably introduced about 15 new products and dropped some of the original recipes as tastes change.”
The distinctive black and white labels remain – with the addition of a more modern font.
Her products are still 100% natural, gluten free and preservative free – ideal for consumers who may have a food intolerance.
Jasmin is proud the company has remained 100% Australian made and owned.
“The vast majority of our ingredients are Australian grown from niche sources – we just want to have the best,” she says.
“Our eggs are still Australian free range eggs, our oil is Australian and our honey is from a local farm about 10km from our factory.
“Our herbs usually come direct from the grower or local markets. And the pesto is made from basil from local farms.”
The brand has become synonymous with quality all-natural homegrown delicious recipes and flavours.
Food trade shows bring success
Jasmin attributes much of her meteoric success from exhibiting at food trade shows throughout Australia.
“We are constantly talking to people and asking for feedback – so we soon get to know what people like and don’t like.”
Roza’s Gourmet will again be on display at the Fine Food Australia 2016 in Melbourne later this month.
“This is the 4th or 5th year we have had a display at the show,” says Jasmin.
“It’s been extremely beneficial in growing the business. It gives us great exposure.
“The leads we received from our international stockists all came from the Fine Food show.
“We’ve also managed to pick up a few distributors and independent retailers who now stock our products.
“It (the Show) has helped to create more brand awareness and has given us great credibility as well.
“It is important to be seen there and important for networking.”
New product range
Jasmin plans to unveil a new range of products at this year’s show.
“This includes the long-awaited Vegan Mayonnaise – a product we’ve been working on for about two years.”
Jasmin takes part in 10-12 trade shows each year which has greatly helped to grow the brand.
“And we are now looking at doing more international shows,” she says.
Fine Food Australia will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 12-15.
This year’s show has attracted more than 1000 exhibitors with innovative products from around Australia and from over 45 countries internationally.
For those wanting to learn more about food export opportunities, Fine Food Australia has a dedicated New & Export Ready showcase.
For more information visit: www.finefoodaustralia.com.au