Growing up as high school friends, Susie and I would often hang out together after school and devour thick bread slathered with butter and banana jam made by Susie’s mum, our beloved ‘lady Di’. We always said one day we will make Banana Jam for everyone to enjoy, we loved it that much
Fast forward to today, armed with knowledge on the impact sugar has on health and mood, we modified the recipe to make it rich and wholesome with high fibre and zero refined sugars. We developed an understanding of the importance of tree fruits versus runner fruits and created a range of exotic tree-based fruit jams.
Together we share a sustainable ethos and to do as much as we can for people and planet in our lifetime. Providing quality food, supporting health and vitality and contributing towards zero wastage for Australian farmers is an important responsibility we hold ourselves accountable in achieving.
In May 2017, with three weeks to spare, we refined recipes and got cracking on our first batch of our Australian fruit range – Banana Jam, Guava & Pineapple Jam and Mango & Ginger Jam and exhibited at the Naturally Good expo in Sydney. Industry feedback on the taste, texture, concept and branding was overwhelmingly positive yet we still had a long way to go to understand logistics, pricing and the food system.
At this time distributors wanted to represent us however we couldn’t get our pricing to be economically viable unless we made our jams cheaper or increased the price. There was no way we were ever going to compromise and put white sugar in our jams and we held fear around pricing too high that it closed down distributor discussions at the time.
It was at this point that I realised how much price or rather, fear of over pricing drives what products we see on shelf. No wonder it has taken so long to bring healthier foods to the mass market. It takes courage to take a stand and I felt strongly that we cannot roll over and compromise.
After the Naturally Good expo, Susie made a tough financial decision to relinquish her partnership and go back to full time work. This was received with my understanding and blessing. She still has her heart in the business today and is my dearest friend through life.
At the same time, I relocated from Sydney to Bendigo to live with my ever-supportive partner Jerry Speiser and to help me recover from the debilitating symptoms of Lyme Disease. It was during this period that I kept working to keep our jam dream alive.
Somehow I got through that year, navigating the unknowns of health and being unemployable, concerned where money will come from, not being eligible for any grants and learning the hard way on the job. I had a lot of uncertain days and fears around whether consumers would pay a premium price for a jam loaded with high quality ingredients and how I was going to get this all to work out.
I stuck to the highest integrity of the product and didn’t compromise on ingredients or price. Our jams are rich, dense and full of fibre – there is so much more jam per jar than the standard jam. Our 300ml Banana Jam is 420 grams of delicious jam.
This was a defining moment. I realised that whilst our price is higher than most jams, our value per serve, high quality and versatility of uses is significantly more economical than standard jams. If people can spend $10 on a loaf of artisan bread, then our pricing is on point. This is how I rose above the price debate on jams and started to shift attitudes on pricing to distributors, retailers and consumers.
From this moment, South Pacific Jam Company became an unapologetic, desirable brand.
And with renewed vigour we embraced bootstrapping our business.
Soon after, divine intervention occurred when our very talented Irish graphic designer Fran Flynn (who caught me from falling many times) invited me to join a closed Facebook group run by Chelsea Ford called Females in Food. It was there I began to learn, connect with other women in similar stages to me and I grew in confidence. I was starting to integrate my knowledge into action and clarity. My confidence was returning as was my health. It was in this group I was fortunate to meet with Food Marketer Lindi Glass, who had recently come out the other end of her national food start up. Together, Lindi and I relished developing a marketing strategy and set out an implementation plan to launch. Jerry became an investor and active partner to help set up logistics and operations and together we developed an end to end system. Our jam manufacturer is the keeper of all jam secrets and a beautiful soul to work with who has collaborated with me to ensure our jams are commercially viable, scalable and consistent with each batch.
With everything in place, we appointed sales agent Jo Sebok who is really better described as a change agent, as she understands how to drive market change in food innovation and challenge the status quo with food buyers on how to meet growing customer needs for quality, whole food products.
It is our highest intention to create a sustainable, thriving Australian business, delighting people around the world with our rich amber colours, luscious fruit flavours and high quality ingredients. That’s why our tagline resonates so deeply with me ‘taste the feeling of spontaneous joy’. There’s so much love and joy in every jar of our jam.
We hope you enjoy our beautiful jams as much as we do.