Produce Boxes From Field to Facebook

MyFreshProduce is a Manawatu based vegetable delivery service that is rooted in the community and founded on Facebook. Over Lockdown 2020, the owners worked hard to meet the sudden changes in demand, adapting to users shifting needs and desires.

Trista sat down to ask Jason Leong, the owner, five quick questions about his experience using social media to sell his produce.

Hi Jason! First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions - we know you have a lot on your plate. So, tell us, how did you get into Fruit and Vege in the first place?

I grew up surrounded by fruit and vegetables at a young age: helping in the market garden, servicing customers in the family Fruit and Vege shop, managing our stall at the Albert Street Market on Saturdays, and assisting with the wholesaling operation to cafés and restaurants in Wellington.

There was never a dull moment, always something happening.

Dad would take me with him on his business rounds; I would just watch and observe how he did business. My father laid down the foundations of what is today a vast network of new and retiring growers.

In my other professional role, I worked for Fonterra and its legacy companies for over 19 years. I started off in Infant Formula & other nutritional milk powder manufacturing in the Waikato and in 2007, I moved back to Palmerston North to work for Fonterra Research and Development Centre in Food Application Development - Medical Beverage & Yoghurt technology applications. Now MyFreshProduce is my full time role.

Wow, so food has been a huge part of your story. How did MyFreshProduce start and how does social media fit into it?

Purely as an accident! I have access to surplus summer fruit and other produce, so I was selling to a few friends and family. They told their family and friends. These customers suggested I start selling more of the produce on Facebook. A Facebook page was created and, as they say, the rest is history.

Five years on, and a lot of things have grown: the customers, the variety of produce sold each week and our Facebook followers.

Social media is a great tool, but it’s only one in the belt. You watched your dad showcase customer service from a young age and you’re using social media to carry that tradition, while still evolving the business.

With that in mind, how have you evolved since and during Lockdown?

Social Media is evolving every day of the week, and I realised Facebook business is limited in reaching out to people who don’t use Facebook. 

A family friend suggested I create a webpage with a Shopify shopping cart system prior to the lockdown so www.myfreshproduce.co.nz was born a few days before lockdown. It was perfect timing and we noticed an immediate effect with so many orders over lockdown. Since then, the business has remained steady.

Any other changes you have noticed about your customer base while serving them online?

We’ve noticed a trend in various age groups who have access to online shopping and understand that quality is not just about a product, it’s about how we conduct communication. Facebook is an important part of that.

I’m constantly looking out for trends in how consumers buy. For example, we use reusable/ recycling paper packaging and clean cardboard boxes and have access to produce that is grown in a spray-free environment by family and friends around the country.

As a customer, I can attest that your communication is phenomenal. So Facebook was a good jumpstart but your website has been a good partnership?

I’ve realised I should have created a website a long time ago, to make the business more visible to non-Facebook users. It’s worked! 

In fact, we’ve recently been nominated in the NZFoodHeroes category at the NZFoodAwards. The family and I think it’s great!

Congratulations Jason - you deserve it! Thanks for taking the time to share your story.

Social media is a good tool but we know it is helpful for you to see how others practically use it well. MyFreshProduce is a great example of how social media can be a great tool to use as a springboard to a growing business. The two-way communication allows you to develop, gather feedback, and grow.
We’d love to share your social success story. Be sure to reach out and let us know how social media has worked for you.

An American-born-Kiwi-by-marriage communications specialist, Trista studied Communications and Business but quickly received a crash course in the NZ wool industry and supported multiple companies in telling their story.

A dairy farmer’s daughter and a legacy deeply rooted in ag, Trista firmly believes in the value of agvocating for the primary industries and sharing their stories with consumers.
In other words - the heartbeat of GRM.