Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we'll figure out together what's next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode. Today it's how a health link could help your business.
One New Zealand company has managed to boost its sales thanks to Covid-19, by leaning into its link to health and wellness.
AgriSea, which makes natural fertilisers from seaweed, has had a sales boom since lockdown.
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In the June 2020 quarter alone, it doubled the export revenue of the previous year.
On The Pivot Pod, AgriSea business development manager Clare Bradley said that in mid-March, staring down the barrel of the unknown, the last thing they were expecting was an increase in profits.
They weren't even sure if they could get products out of the country, while domestically all customers had "shut their wallets".
But by April and May, export numbers were shooting upwards.
"I guess this is really down to the soaring trend in health, nutrition, transparency in good quality products that promote health and wellbeing," Bradley said.
"There's [also] a big trend in people starting their own gardens again, and growing their own food and relying on their own supply chains."
She said relationships were key for helping them fill both the new export demand, and the domestic gardening explosion.
They stayed in constant contact with suppliers, customers, and the bank.
AgriSea even began collaborating more with businesses that they'd seen as competitors in the past, with everyone working to support each other to make the necessary changes through an uncertain time.
"We're looking at ways that maybe our products can complement each other, and they can maybe use our distribution, and we can share some of our resources," Bradley said.
"I think it's really important for business owners to take a step back, look at other players in their market, and see where there may be places to build a relationship and collaborate."
New Zealand's natural products industry is estimated to be worth $2.3 billion each year.
So a renewed focus on health is good news for the many small businesses are hoping for a piece of that pie.
Susan Kilsby, ANZ agriculture economist, said products that could boast a health link had an advantage after the Covid-19 pandemic sent many countries into lockdown.
"We're seeing consumers becoming increasingly focused on eating healthy food, food that's natural, that's produced sustainably, and also that they feel a strong connection with.
"So we're seeing a strong demand for our export goods recently. Particularly seeing that from a lot of our Asian markets, so China, Japan, South Korea, have been really strong for our fruit exports recently."
Kilsby said the embrace of digital technology had actually improved the ability for New Zealand businesses to compete internationally, as now our physical distance was less of a barrier.
Customers and suppliers were becoming more used to communicating by video call, and relying on external audits rather than visiting in person.
Listen to the full interview, with many more tips, on The Pivot Pod here.