RFG’s year in review and what to expect from us in 2021

Whether you’ve been a loyal customer for years or you came running back to us in hopes that we’d have toilet paper in stock when the big supermarkets didn’t or you’re a RFG newbie who discovered their inner-chef during the lockdown – we’d just like to say a big THANK YOU to every single one of you for supporting us this year.

2020 has been one heck of a journey, to say the least. In this month’s blog, Nelle and Scott reflect on the lessons they’ve learnt during this whirlwind of a year that is 2020 and what they’ve got in store for RFG customers in the new year.

Hey Nelle and Scott! You’ve both been crazy busy the last few weeks with all the RFG Xmas orders. Did you manage to find some time to enjoy a bit of a break this Christmas?

N: We did, and we’ve enjoyed a few much-needed lie ins as well! We spent Christmas Eve having dinner at the pub with my dad. He actually works for us as one of our delivery drivers, so I’m really fortunate that we get to see each other all the time but to get to sit down together for a meal was really nice.

Scott and I saw my mum on Christmas Day for a delish big breakfast which is a long running family tradition of ours. We usually spend the rest of the day with Scott’s family but this year we saw them on Boxing Day instead.

S: Yeah, we switched things up this year because one of my sisters is a nurse, and the other has just had a little baby who had ALOT of people to visit on Christmas Day. So, we all decided we’d get together on Boxing Day instead. It was really nice! Obviously my new nephew was the star of the day.

Glad to hear you’ve had some well-deserved family time. What was your favourite part of Christmas Day?

N: Besides seeing family and diving into the Christmas pudding? My favourite part was giving Scott his presents. I got a LOT of gifts for him!

S: Giving Nelle her presents was a highlight for me too. We said we wouldn’t do presents this year, and then we started buying gifts for each other and it might have got a little out of a hand…

N: It definitely got a little out of hand.

What food most reminds you of Christmas?

N: Succulent ham, crispy roast pork with heaps of apple sauce, plum pudding with custard…

S: None of those things for me, hah! Maybe the plum pudding though.

N: That’s because Scott’s whole family are all vegetarian so their traditions are VERY different to mine.

S: It’s all about spinach and ricotta for my family. My sisters are really talented in the kitchen so always cook up a feast. One sister makes the best gnocchi and my other sister makes the most moreish mushroom wontons. Honestly, they’re out of this world.

Sounds delish! What’s one foodie item that must be on the dinner table or it just won’t feel like Christmas?

N: Christmas pudding, without a doubt. It’s just not Christmas without it!

S: In my family, it’s a big thing that every dinner must contain copious amounts of cheese.

N: That’s so true, and I’m so lactose intolerant. I remember my first Christmas with your family and we did a baked cheese wheel in pastry with apricot jam.

S: That was delicious! Our cheese tradition has evolved over the years to include tons of garlic now as well. It will be interesting to see how that tradition changes now that some family members have gone vegan but there are so many yummy vegan cheeses out there and we stock a lot of them at RFG which will help keep the cheesy tradition alive.

Let’s talk 2020. It’s an understatement to say that this year has been like no other, describe it in 3 words.

N: Busy, exciting (in a weird way) and terrifying!

S: It’s definitely been busy. I’m going to say something controversial here, but it’s been stress-free. I feel our business has evolved so much this year. We’ve cut out a toxic business partner and I’m really proud to say that we’ve achieved a good level of financial security.

N: Yeah, personally we have really strived. I’ve also become so confident in my team this year. They’ve been incredible.

What have you personally learnt this year that you will take into 2021?

N: You’ve got to roll with it. You can’t hope for the best and take action based on that. You have to see what happens and do your best with the situation you’re in. Whether that’s a hardcore lockdown or no lockdown.

S: You’re right. You can’t control anything. Whatever the situation is, you’ve just got to take it for what it is.

What challenges did you face this year with Real Food Grocer?

S: The up and down of the demand during the lockdowns was a real challenge.

N: We’ve had to upscale really quickly this year. The first lockdown involved some long hours and a lot of fussing about. We definitely had too many staff on at times but by the end of year I think we’ve finally learnt how to scale down as needed. It’s been a real learning experience for us.

We’ve had to be pretty resourceful to get things on the shelves this year. There was a period when we didn’t know if we were going to get stock which was interesting. We’ve never been in that situation before where we’ve had to hunt down toilet paper. That was an experience that a lot of the old greengrocers talk about in the 70s but modern-day greengrocers don’t have to deal with that very often.

We’ve also had to learn to cope with the instability that comes with being a business owner. You don’t have a set wage or the security of a paid by the hour job. On a personal level, learning to deal with that stress has been a challenge but one I’m grateful to have learnt. 

What are you most proud of this year with RFG?

N: I’m incredibly proud of my team. Our staff who have been with us before the pandemic have really had to knuckle down and ride out the challenging times. It’s so wonderful to see how they’ve created such a culture of love and understanding. They all crack jokes and laugh while getting the job done at the same time. I just love my team so much.

S: For me, I’m proud that Nelle has identified that she needed to step away from a role in the business that was taking up a lot of her time, even though she really enjoyed it. She’s passed that role onto someone else in the team and I’m really proud of her for doing so.

What did you learn about your customers during the lockdown?

N: I’ve read so many stories about customers shouting at supermarket staff, but that honestly never happens to us because all our customers are just so lovely. We even had customers leaving out hand sanitiser for our delivery drivers and little gifts. The amount of thank you notes we’ve received this year has been incredibly heart-warming.

S: I even got some fruit and nuts from a customer this year!

What can RFG customers expect in 2021?

N: I’ve got big plans, baby! We want to expand our range of gluten-free and vegan products. We’ve also got a Mexican cuisine range that we’re working on launching.

S: One benefit of the lockdown for us was that we got the time to be able to really concentrate on expanding our lines. Now that they’re ticking over and working, we want to carry on expanding them in 2021.

N: We have a little secret project that we’ve been working on. For years, we’ve focused on reducing our landfill footprint and we will always aim to continue to improve it. In the back of our minds, we’re also focused on ways we can reduce our carbon footprint too. So, one thing we hope to achieve in 2021 is to switch to a solar panel powered warehouse. Electrical vehicles have started to have the distance we’d need to be able to switch over to them. If we changed to electrical vehicles then we’d be able to reduce our carbon footprint significantly because our delivery vans would be electric and charged via the solar panel powered warehouse. It’s a big project that would require a lot of funding but we’re really hoping that we can make happen next year.

What do you hope to have achieved next year?

N: I’m currently working two jobs at Real Food Grocer so in 2021 I’d really like to be able to just concentrate on the one role – business development. If I could hand over the team management and leadership side of things to someone else, then I’ll be able to concentrate on improving our environmental footprint and our marketing.

S: Generally speaking, we’re hoping to really grow the business. I’d like to get to a point where we can take off two weeks and not have to worry. That’s a big aim for me.

N: We’d also like to be able to inspire our customers to make suggestions to us on how we can improve our impact. That’s really important to me.

And final question, any New Year’s Resolutions?

S: Mine is to just really round out the rough bits so Real Food Grocer runs even smoother.

N: Personally, mine is to be better at home with waste management. We’re really good in the workplace but there’s some room for improvement around the home. As for Real Food Grocer? To just to keep doing what we’re doing. I’m really proud of us!


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