New online store for our small producers
Eighteen months after coming to the rescue of Aussie cheesemakers, Cheese Therapy is expanding to launch an online marketplace to help save small food producers and farmers around the country who are struggling due to the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the online gourmet cheese hamper business recorded an astonishing 2400 percent growth year on year, selling two years’ worth of cheese in one month during the height of lockdown. Cheese Therapy saved the Milawa Cheese Company after the bushfires and went on to support a further 17 cheesemakers during the pandemic, including Apostle Whey Cheese in Victoria, which recorded 52 percent sales growth last financial year.
Cheese Therapy co-founders Sam Penny and Helen Shadforth say they’ve since been inundated with requests from gourmet food producers, winemakers, coffee growers and other small businesses wanting help to showcase their products. In response, they’ve created Artisans Bend, a food equivalent of Etsy. The online marketplace will officially launch in September, with more than 70 producers already asking to come on board.
“We’re so excited to launch this new ‘Etsy’-style online collective for rural and regional food, wine, coffee, condiments and artisan producers,” Penny says. “Cheese Therapy proved to be a lifeline for cheesemakers; now we’re using our experience, infrastructure and marketing knowledge to launch a new era in Australia’s online food industry.”
Artisans Bend will be a one-stop shopping destination where Australians get the chance to learn about and support local producers from across the country, and where our talented artisans can promote their produce and share their passions and their stories.
“Cheese Therapy is a family-run business, and we know that most artisan producers are small mum-and-dad businesses, so Artisans Bend is a way for us to help mentor these producers and find a market for their products,” Penny says.
Artisans Bend offers new hope to our traditional makers, many of whom are from small communities that have been heavily impacted by bushfires and COVID. Artisans in rural and regional areas rely heavily on tourist trade, and with borders closed, this has cut off a large part of their income. This new online destination gives these small producers the opportunity to transact with food lovers across the country in the one marketplace.
To deliver the new platform, Cheese Therapy is partnering with Melbourne-based global technology company, Marketplacer, which has also brought us premium restaurant meal delivery service Providoor, and Global Sisters – Australia’s first impact-driven, 100 percent not-for-profit online marketplace for women-run businesses.
Businesses helped by Cheese Therapy
Kristina Kucan lost her construction job during last year’s pandemic and began making sourdough lavosh crackers in her kitchen as a hobby. Cheese Therapy created a supply chain for Kucan, who now owns her own small business. Her lavosh crackers are stocked in 130 retail stores and Kucan expects to be selling 12,000 crackers a month by Christmas.
Julian and Dianne Bensen had previously struggled to sell their Apostle Whey cheeses beyond their cellar door in Victoria. After seeing a news story about Cheese Therapy, they reached out to Sam, and Cheese Therapy has been selling their cheeses ever since. Their produce is now sold all over Australia. Sales growth last financial year was up 52 percent.
Tarago River Cheese has completely changed its business strategy after losing all of its airline contracts as well as a large amount of foodservice sales due to COVID-19. After partnering with Cheese Therapy, demand for Tarago River Cheese has risen by eight percent, allowing them to increase and expand their product range.
For more information about Artisans Bend and how small producers can join the marketplace, head to artisansbend.com