Local Love: Discovering Local Food
It is during great pressure that creativity finds a way forward. As Noosa residents and businesses faced lockdown, many were searching for new ways to operate and how to keep operating in a challenging environment. Eat Local Noosa was born in a period of global pressure, and through a small spark of creativity, a community was connected with each other and its customers. Deb Caruso is part of the team behind Eat Local Noosa and explains what it’s about.
Many businesses were surprised when government restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were announced, none moreso than the seafood suppliers who had been preparing for the usual peak demand around Easter. Compounded by the fact that most of the businesses they supplied direct to were now closed. With no direct connections with consumers they were suddenly faced with an oversupply of stock, significant food waste, and potential job losses.
A few phone calls from local Member Sandy Bolton MP, Kirk from Off the Hook in Peregian and some quick and collaborative thinking from Chris Boden of Noosa Council’s Digital Hub; and Alesha Gooderham saw the conception of Eat Local Noosa – an online platform designed to connect consumers with suppliers of food and beverages with our local community.
Alesha said the concept began when she was asked to look at a solution to support the local seafood wholesalers.
“It quickly became clear that our entire local food and drink industry faced similar challenges with restaurants and cafes needing to let people know that they were now offering something new,” she said.
“So we found a solution to meet the needs for the local food and drink businesses whilst also providing an invaluable marketplace for our entire Noosa community and visitors to eat like a local.”
Calling on Michelle Mason and the team from Social Tap, the creation of an online solution was established over the space of a weekend with EatLocalNoosa.com.au listing local food and drink producers, as well as grocery stores and retailers offering heat-and-eat, takeaway or delivery.
The next step was to get businesses to register and to let consumers know where to find them. Industry groups Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN); Slow Food Noosa; Noosa Eat & Drink Festival; and Country Noosa; as well as Tourism Noosa; IN Noosa Magazine; and Noosa Council had been working together for several years and their combined network of more than 308,000 supporters and members allowed for immediate reach into food businesses to encourage participation.
More than 70 businesses listed on the first day of registration being open, with listings continuing to come in and now more than150 businesses have listed on the site since the middle of June. With the addition of some consumer PR to the strategic digital marketing from Social Tap, we saw the website register more than 4,500 users with 200,000 page views and an average site visit time of four-and-a-half minutes.
Peter Seghers from Noosa Reds in Doonan said the closure of restaurants had cost his business about 80 percent of its customers, while market sales were down 30 percent.
“We aren’t very active on social media and we don’t have a website so the free listing on Eat Local Noosa was great for us – not only for customers to find us but hopefully other grocers and restaurants who would like to order direct,” he said.
Alesha recognised the challenges for businesses to reach a broader customer base and for customers to have a central hub to find out what businesses were open and what they were offering. She acknowledged the work of Michelle, Matt and the team from Social Tap for creating the brand, building and managing the website and social platforms at no cost.
The Eat Local Noosa team of Alesha, Michelle and myself are committed to supporting this initiative for the benefit of the local food and drink industry and the Noosa community. The way the local industry has come together has been inspiring and reflects that the true power of projects like this is in the collaboration and partnership.
“As a consumer-focused and industry-led initiative we believe that Eat Local Noosa adds value post-COVID, not only to our local community but also visitors, who are looking to ‘eat like a local,” Alesha added.
Listing categories include takeaway; restaurant & cafes; coffee; drinks and fresh which incorporates grocery and fresh and frozen produce, plus seafood; meat; fruit and veg; bakery; eggs and dairy.
To find a business visit www.eatlocalnoosa.com.au