Jane Crichton is super-fussy about the ingredients she selects for her brand of condiments Seed – Food With Love.
Using her grandmother’s recipe for tomato sauce means there weren’t any hot-house tomatoes 50 years ago, only sun-ripened and Jane continues this tradition.
“As a child, I didn’t know you could buy tomato sauce”, she said “because we always had Granny’s home-made sauce”.
Her micro-enterprise began on the kitchen bench in 2012 with the tomato sauce and now includes five products, including her Sydney Fine Food show’s Silver Medal winning Apple and Mint Jelly.
“I get the apples from Batlow and the mint from my vegetable garden”, Ms Crichton said. “In fact, almost ninety per cent of all the ingredients I use come from within a 300 kilometre radius of Wagga”.
“In summer, I buy boxes of beautiful tomatoes, transform them into liquid and freeze in batches until I use them throughout the year. I know all my suppliers and, by buying directly from them, they look after me and the money I spend goes directly to them: I really enjoy buying home-grown tomatoes from road-side stalls”.
Ms Crichton purchases most of her ingredients during summer, semi-processes then freezes them for use during the year. When it comes to purchasing bottles and labels there is a small dilemma as the price variances between buying in Australia or off-shore are significant.
“The difference between labels is 80c versus 5c and the bottles almost the same. As a micro-manufacturer creating all products by hand, every cost adds up and making an extra $1.50 per bottle would make a difference to my bottom-line. My ethos is to buy as locally as possible so, I could increase the price per unit to improve profitability however, that price sensitivity may be the difference between someone buying my handmade product or opting for something which has been mass produced. The flow-on effect of each person’s decision has an impact somewhere”.
Since establishing her micro-business, Ms Crichton has been attending farmers markets and Christmas fairs, and wholesaling to a selected range of retailers in Moree, West Wyalong, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Coolamon, Jugiong and Junee. At Christmas, the hampers are very popular as gifts for teachers and her established clientele provide reliable repeat business.
The main channels of promotion are via Facebook, Instagram and face-to-face at markets. “I always provide an information sheet with every sale so customers take new ideas about how to use my products. One cafe in Wagga combines the Apple and Mint jelly with sour cream as a filling for their baked potatoes; how good is that” Ms Crichton smiled.