Hospo CheckIn: Richard Seymour

Mount Zero Olives in the Grampians lost 70% of their business  when COVID-19 restrictions kicked in. That’s the percentage of their business that they supply to restaurants of their award-winning olive oil, olives, pulses and salts. 

So, we checked in with general manager, Richard Seymour, to see how they’re all going.

1. What was the timeline for you, when you realised restaurants were closing and you are going to have surplus to move – what initial steps did  you take? 

As soon as the Grand Prix was canned, I knew we were in for a whole world of pain in the hospitality industry (70% of our customer base).  That same friday we were delivering to the wineries in the Yarra Valley and I remember calling our driver and asking him to drop by Biodynamic Marketing on the way home and fill up with certified organic and biodynamic produce – for us to list on our website.  We pivoted in a big way to online sales and to stocking the items from other local farmers and producers.  We also opened a retail shop at our warehouse in Sunshine West and are planning a click & collect market for the end of this month.  

2. How do you see the Hospitality industry operating after this has passed, will it be better for local producers? 

This is a really tough question as the road back for hospitality is going to be really tough and I know that operators will be looking very closely at their food costs… One of most beautiful changes I have seen in the industry over the last 10+ years has been the symbiotic relationship that has developed between chefs and local producers.  When one benefits, both benefit and same goes for the negative.  I think local producers will be key to helping the industry get back on its feet.  We have the same great produce, we are trying to hold on to the relationships and we are heavily invested in the successful return of the hospitality industry.

3. How are you and your teams? 

Like everyone, we have all ridden the horrible roller coaster, from staffing cutbacks one day and reinstatement the next (under jobkeeper).  We are all hanging in and have probably learnt more about ourselves, our business and each other in the last month than, we have in the last year and that has to be a good thing.

Interview: May  15