Exhibitor Spotlight: Harvest Box
Melbourne business Harvest Box began delivering healthy snacks direct to people’s homes and offices. Today, they’re stocked in one of Australia’s major supermarkets and also export overseas. Ahead of their appearance in the Trade Zone at Global Table this September, co-founder James Scott spoke to us about the business and its goals.
Tell us how and when your business started.
My co-founders and I started the Harvest Box subscription service in 2010 after we saw a clear need in Australia for healthier snack options in workplaces. The concept was simple: rate our online snack menu (which featured 50 dried fruit- and nut-based snacks), choose a delivery day and wait for your box to arrive like a standard letter, through Australia Post. Each box contained four snacks and was customised to the individual’s tastes, based on their ratings. The subscription service quickly gained popularity and, within two years, we had sent healthy snacks to every single Australian postcode.
By 2014, we had received 1 million unique snack ratings, and we chose the four most popular mixes to launch the Harvest Box retail range, which was snapped up by Coles within a few months. The range, list of stockists and export markets grew over the next few years and, in 2018, we decided to retire the subscription box service, because the success of the retail range meant we needed to focus on that full-time instead.
Why did you want to pursue this business idea?
In 2010, it was almost impossible to find any snack options other than chips and chocolate in convenience stores and vending machines. We knew that if we were frustrated by this, other people must be, too. Our mission was – and still is – to make making healthier choices easier.
What product are you most proud of and why?
Power Mix, which is our classic dried fruit and nut trail mix with a sprinkling of milk chocolate. Power Mix was our highest-rated subscription box mix and was among the first four original retail products. I’m proud of it because it’s so simple, but I think people love it because we got the combination and ratio of ingredients just right.
We like to think of Power Mix (and the rest of our range) as the step between an apple and a Mars bar for the person who wants to make better choices but doesn’t want to compromise on treat factor.
What is your favourite fact about the agriculture or food industry?
I recently read that one in seven Australian jobs are in farm-dependent industries, which I found pretty interesting. That’s why events like Global Table are so important.
Have you taken your business to many B2B events? If so, what were they?
Yes, we’re pretty well-known at B2B trade shows both in Australia and throughout Asia by now. We’ve formed some great relationships with both distributors and retailers at these events but, on top of that, they’re a great opportunity to get face-to-face feedback on our products from the people who sell them for us.
What do you think makes a great trade show or business event?
A good variation of types of exhibitors and attendees. Oh, and good networking drinks are always a plus.
What are you looking forward to learning more about at Global Table?
I think it’s fantastic that the event focuses on making young people a key part of it. I’m looking forward to hearing their take on the current food and agriculture landscape and, more importantly, what they want it to be in the future. It’s easy to get bogged down in daily details, which is why it’ll be fascinating to hear some fresh takes on what businesses like ours could be doing.
Where do you want your business to be in three years?
We’re on a mission to make the Harvest Box brand a household name, synonymous with making better choices. It’d be amazing to be at that stage by 2022.
In your opinion, what has been the most exciting change in food over the last five years?
The huge increase in plant-based options and the momentum that the movement has gained so rapidly. As little as five years ago, the idea of a plant-based burger seemed pretty out there.
What else would you like to see change in the food and agriculture industry?
It’s already happening, but I’d like to see more of a back-to-basics approach where possible: fewer processed foods and more education around how consumers can use ingredients that they grow themselves.