Photos: SUPPLIED

More than meat and three veg – Eat Drink West

June 28, 2020 BY

Kate Davis from Eat Drink West continues chatting with the region’s producers on how they’re coping with the fallout from COVID-19. This week it’s everything from the orchard, the market garden and the pasture.

 

The meat makers

PRIOR to COVID-19, the majority of Sher Wagyu beef was destined for premier restaurants around the region as well as in export markets.

Now, things have changed.

“We have had to shift our focus to retail and direct sales,” said Sher Wagyu farm owner Vicki Sher.

“We are doing this by promoting more volume and different cuts through our existing retail butcher customers and also working hard to place our product into new outlets.”

A family-owned business, Sher Wagyu has been producing premium wagyu beef for more than three decades.

As a result of the pandemic, the farm has now set up a direct home delivery service and is working with long-term distributors to have a retail, supermarket and online focus.

Ms Sher said customers can continue to support meat farmers by buying online at wholesale prices, supporting local butchers, and enjoying take home meals from those restaurants who make use of local beef.

“It’s been a challenging year to say the least,” he said. “But it’s been amazing to see how resourceful, innovative and positive people and businesses have been. That has been inspiring and helped us to keep moving forward.”

Judy Croagh from Western Plains Pork agrees the last few months have been incredibly challenging for farmers everywhere.

Western Plains has quickly adapted its model to focus online, allowing its products to remain available for restaurants and consumers through a new home delivery service.

Ms Croagh said being able to work alongside industry leaders has allowed her team to maintain a positive outlook amongst the chaos of the pandemic.

“It is pretty exciting when I am contacted by some of the chefs I have worked with for a long time and they want to use our product,” she said.

The fruit and vegetable producers

While Brigid Corcoran already had an online presence for her bushfood venture Saltbush Kitchen, she affirms that keeping afloat amongst the COVID crisis has been a challenge.

“I already had an online store, so I am shaping the business around that,” she said.

With MasterChef 2020 embracing bushfoods this year, Brigid said she’s been lucky that people are becoming more appreciative and interested in the bushfoods industry.

“I’m also finding that people are spending more time in their own kitchen and looking for fun and tasty ways to change up their cooking. Bushfoods are the perfect place to start.”

That being said, keeping a positive outlook is not an easy feat during one of the most testing times for the hospitality sector.

“But we hospo people are made of tough stuff!” Ms Corcoran said. “We are trained to be creative and responsive. It’s what we do on a daily basis.

“COVID-19 is a challenge on steroids, but I have taken it as a challenge to adapt and to keep telling the Saltbush Kitchen story. So take the leap to embrace our native foods, buy some bushfoods and get cooking!”

Jason Waller from BLK454 Fruit and Vegetables at Evansford said supplying restaurants and cafes was at the core of his business, so when those eateries shut down, so did business as usual.

However, with the assistance of some friends in the food and wine industry, he was able to adapt to the current climate and continue connecting growers to restaurants and the public.

“In the last month, there have been many businesses come up out of nowhere to supply produce boxes, but most of these are not local and will not be here in the long term,” said Mr Waller.

“Our Eat Drink West boxes provide great insights into the local growers and producers they support.

“If we are to come out the other side of this successful, we local need local support.”