Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson


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Cecilia Robinson Community image 640 x 270.jpg

Three years after its launch and having enjoyed sustained success, pioneering food business, My Food Bag is cooking up some more new ideas to tempt New Zealand consumers.

Since its start in Auckland in March 2013, the company has won over customers across New Zealand, delivering the makings of high-quality meals in centres from Whangarei to Dunedin, while also launching into Sydney and Melbourne.

In that short time it has supplied the recipes and ingredients for over 10 million meals and built its annual turnover to $80 million – and rising. Now, says co-founder Cecilia Robinson, it’s hatching plans to widen its appeal even further over the next 12 months.

Robinson mentions new products such as gluten-free meals but also hints at the possibility of a service at a lower price point. “We’ve got a fantastic product and it’s really cost-effective for a lot of families, but we want all New Zealand to access My Food Bag and we’re currently reviewing how we can make that possible. It shouldn’t matter where you live or how much you earn.”

It sounds ambitious, but so was Robinson’s original business plan – though that turned out to underestimate how popular My Food Bag would be. “The growth has certainly been above our expectations,” she says.

Launched into Sydney and Melbourne in 2014, the company has managed to triple its Australian turnover in the past year. “It’s early days,” Robinson says. “We’ve made solid progress and are really gaining momentum as we develop the offer for Australian food lovers.”

The company has tailored its offering to fit with slightly different consumer preferences and also to reflect the wider product availability in Sydney and Melbourne. “I think the trends can be different and the customer behaviour is a little bit different,” she says. “You need to start with a clear understanding of what the consumer wants and then adapt to that.”

Robinson says it also takes longer to build connections there compared with New Zealand, where existing business relationships could come into play. “Really, it’s just one degree of separation in New Zealand. In Australia, you need to allow more time to successfully establish yourself.”

Operating in two countries, My Food Bag, makes good use of BNZ’s FX platform to manage its hedging and currency requirements, a service Robinson rates highly for convenience of access and peace of mind.

BNZ has backed the company since its launch, she says. “When we initially presented the concept, they said, ‘This is great. How much money do you want?’ They have been totally supportive. It’s been a really great relationship and ongoing partnership.”

Corporate Partner Geoff Stewart says BNZ is proud of the role it has played in the My Food Bag story. “This is a great example of how we can work with a start-up and provide the support and services it needs as it grows. It’s been so exciting to witness their success.”

The company, which is fronted by celebrity chef Nadia Lim and has leading businesswoman Theresa Gattung as a director and shareholder, brought in leading advertising figure Kevin Roberts as chairperson last year.

Robinson says she and her partners take particular satisfaction from the success enjoyed by My Food Bag’s suppliers. “We’ve had suppliers that started out baking 100 bread rolls for us and now they are making thousands and thousands. We’re making a real impact for other New Zealand businesses – small, medium and larger businesses, too.”

Those suppliers will be pleased to learn My Food Bag want to appeal to an even wider market. “We’ve got a lot of big goals,” Robinson says. “My Food Bag’s only going to continue innovating.”

Originally printed in KiaOra Magazine, Feb 2016

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