Building an organic company from scratch with Ozganics
Anni Brownjohn is an award-winning organic food entrepreneur and founder of Ozganics. Here she tells the story of how Ozganics began.
I founded Ozganics in my regional NSW town of Murwillumbah in 1999. The impetus was triggered by several factors. Firstly, my son suffered food intolerances as a young child, forcing me to be an avid label reader. I was incredulous at the amount of everyday foods that are laden with artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. It was quite frightening to have a child whose behaviour would swing from pure sweetness to wild animal in a matter of hours after seemingly healthy packaged food. In addition, my daughter is lactose-intolerant and my husband gluten-intolerant. Boy, that’s enough of an incentive alone!
The second reason was my absolute disgust at not being able to purchase Australian-made fruit spreads at the local supermarket. That really hit a chord. We are such an innovative country. We have fruit. Why on earth wasn’t someone producing these everyday foods?
Lastly, I am a cook. My mother and mentor taught me the art of simplicity and cooking from scratch. I was forever experimenting with flavours and textures, and focused on naturally healthy and organic meals for my family and friends.
After years of winning prizes for my jams and sauces, I decided to let my entrepreneurial streak shine. With no formal qualifications, I madly attended short courses on topics such as nutrition and naturopathy, read every book on organics, food production, business and health I could get my hands on and spent countless hours creating and testing for my first range of certified organic sauces and jams under the Ozganics brand.
I built the organic company from scratch. My dear father, a retired engineer, helped me design some of the machinery and build the factory. At the same time, with a small team, I developed new products, sought out domestic and international markets and opened international offices.
In 2008, the Ozganics brand expanded to include a range of simple and delicious simmer sauces based on well-loved recipes from Thailand, Morocco and India. Today Ozganics brand offers 26 products and exports to 20 countries.
I am proud that I can generate employment in a regional area and promote best-practice organic systems for organic food manufacturing. I also feel very privileged to share with customers a message of health, wellness and certified organic food.
My team and I have won many awards over the years. My personal high was winning the Innovation Award at the 2013 National Telstra Business Woman of the Year awards. It says to me that quality organic food manufacturing is being recognised and has a place in our economy and our market. With a growing awareness of health and what we put in our bodies, this industry is set to burgeon.
The Ozganics mission
Our mission is to provide an uncompromisingly high standard of organic, healthy food to Australians and the people of the world.
Our factory is situated in Murwillumbah, a rural town in the stunning Tweed Valley in Northern New South Wales. I’m proud to say it maintains the only organically certified production plant of wet sauce lines in Australasia–Pacific region that is gluten-, dairy- and egg-free. The factory is also certified halal, kosher, WQA and HACCP, and maintains two organic certification systems registered with the Australian Commonwealth Government: Organic Food Chain and Australian Certified Organic.
Today the factory employs over 20 members of the local community and produces over 26 different products under the Ozganics label. And we’re now exporting to over 20 countries around the world.
Where possible, Ozganics purchases Australian certified organic produce. If quantities are unavailable, I head further afield. As the former director of a number of Australian organic industry boards, I am well versed in international organic policy, procedures and standards and I personally research all incoming ingredients to ensure the credibility of their organic certification.
Ozganics develops and manufactures organic products for most major Australian supermarkets under private label agreements and was the first Australian organic manufacturer to make organic products for the Woolworths Macro organic brand.”
By focusing on naturally healthy and organic meals, Ozganics has been sharing a message of health, sustainability and certified organic food for over 20 years.
For more information, visit ozganics.com.au.
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