16/09/2010 - 00:00

An element of irony at Bronze

16/09/2010 - 00:00

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Rose Morgan has established a loyal customer base for Balingup Bronze Café and is now moving into wholesaling her products through IGA and Fresh Provisions. Emily Morgan reports.

An element of irony at Bronze

THERE is an element of irony in Rose Morgan's tale. Five years ago she stumbled upon WA’s sweetheart hippie town of Balingup, recognised the locals’ insatiable love of coffee and started a café to quench their thirst.

She complimented the beans with 80 per cent gluten-free, predominantly vegetarian and sourced local produce.

“It was basically an ethos, a whole combination of trying to support organic and fair trade products, but also supplying nutritional food, Australian seafood and buying locally,” Ms Morgan told Gusto.

Although she wasn’t a coeliac, Ms Morgan recognised the importance of providing her loyal customer base with gluten-free options and shifted into operating as a 100 per cent gluten-free café after 12 months of operation.

Two years after running the café totally gluten-free, Ms Morgan was diagnosed with coeliac disease herself, the autoimmune disorder of the small intestine in which gluten, found in wheat and other grains, is not tolerated.

At the same time, after developing a style for the café and growing her skills in gluten-free cooking techniques, Ms Morgan took the products to Perth, showcasing them at the Fremantle and Claremont farmers’ markets.

The strategy was to use the markets to create greater awareness of the products and a greater customer base.

“Doing markets is a great way of seeing whether people like your products, it is a great testing ground. You are getting a mass market that is very honest with you,” she said.

“We found there was a demand for gluten-free products. Even people that weren’t coeliac, they like the idea of not eating wheat; it was a diet choice basically.”

Ms Morgan said five years of experience in cooking gluten-free has allowed her and her staff to get comfortable in the techniques required in gluten-free cooking, and it has now become second nature just as cooking with wheat is to other cooks.

By launching the products to a broader scope of consumers at the farmers’ markets, Ms Morgan created exposure to IGA and Fresh Provisions supermarkets in Perth and is now wholesaling its products under the brand ‘Gluten Free for Everyone’ to both groups.

After starting the wholesale arm of the business only four months ago, it now accounts for 30 per cent of the business.

The restaurant has reached its production capacity for wholesaling and Ms Morgan is looking to expand the business by investing in a new commercial kitchen.

“If we can manufacture, we have got orders. There is demand but we can’t manufacture enough until we have a second commercial kitchen which is what we will be looking at by the end of this year,” Ms Morgan said.

“We are restructuring the business so we can manufacture without compromising the restaurant itself.

“We will build something totally separate so we can split the business into the wholesaling side and a new crew of staff and keep the café as a restaurant.”

Building the capacity of the manufacturing branch of the business will allow Ms Morgan to cater to the growing demands on the manufacturing business she hopes will be further boosted by Balingup Bronze having a presence at the Margaret River farmers’ market.

“We already have two shops in the area (Margaret River) interested in our products but there is no point in them taking the products if only a couple of people are going to be buying the products,” she said.

After establishing a presence in the Margaret River region, Ms Morgan will then direct customers to the retailers selling her products in the area.

• Emily Morgan is not related to Rose Morgan.

 

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