As a social enterprise, Food Connect uses the principles of Community Supported Agriculture to ensure small, regenerative growers get a fair price for their produce while customers receive the freshest, seasonal produce that's ethically sourced.
Food Connect ensures small artisan food makers have access to a stable market, which initially involved selling directly to consumers and, in recent years, embraced wholesale sales.
Executive Director Emma-Kate Rose said winning the inaugural ISPT Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise in the 2019 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards gave the whole team and community of customers, growers and investors a huge boost in morale.
“The award gave us a big boost for our reputation in the food industry, particularly in such a cut-throat sector,” Emma-Kate said.
“Increasing the awareness of social enterprise also shone a light on the fact that you can run your business to benefit people and the planet and still be successful.
“The immediate effects were an increase in sales, which means our growers got a bigger piece of the market. We also set about completing our office and warehouse renovations, which has increased our operational efficiencies and allowed us to plan for increased capacity.”
The COVID-19 situation helped grow Food Connect’s sales and it gave them the opportunity to help others.
“When the pandemic hit, our sales quadrupled, but many of our restaurant clients had to pivot,” Emma-Kate said.
“We helped them with creating take home grocery boxes to sell at the door for their local customers.
“We also employed another 10 workers who had lost their jobs in hospitality and increased our capacity for home delivery. In turn, our growers increased their harvests to cater to our larger volume of orders.”
Emma-Kate said Brisbane was leading the way in supporting innovative solutions to social and environmental problems through its support of social enterprises, with last year’s inaugural award in the social enterprise category being a prime example.
“Getting recognised for more than 15 years of hard work at the cutting edge of social innovation has been a wonderful achievement for Food Connect.”