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Food for health: A multimillion-dollar business built on muesli

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Highlights
  • Former naturopath Narelle Plapp launched Food For Health, a muesli and health food business, in Ballarat, Victoria in 2005 as a market-style ‘boot of the car’ operation.
  • Supported by Telstra’s DOT™ (Digital Office Technology), a business mobile plan and a home bundle with mobile, priority number, Wi-Fi internet and landline. 
  • The business has grown to supply Coles, Woolworths, Costco’s Australian operations, Virgin’s domestic and international operations, independent retailers and 14 international markets.
  • The company has an annual turnover of $6 million.

"With the rise in health-conscious and time-poor consumers, one naturopath has followed her passion for nutritious food to create a multimillion-dollar business from muesli."

Narelle Plapp’s commitment to good health has seen her swap a naturopathy practice for a successful muesli company, Food For Health. She started out selling health foods from a market-style ‘boot of the car’ operation in Ballarat, Victoria in 2005. A decade on, she has created a $6 million international business.

“We’re passionate about healthy food for everybody,” Narelle says. “As well as cereals, we provide muesli bars and other healthy snacks, with most of our products being gluten-free.”

The business owner holding a baby.

Potential for growth

Food For Health’s products have been well received in Australia and overseas. They are stocked in major supermarkets, in Costco’s Australian stores and on Virgin’s domestic and international routes. The business supplies a number of independent retailers and also exports to 14 countries in the Middle East, South-East Asia and other regions.

Narelle attributes some of that success to outsourcing non-core activities. Instead, her five-person team focuses on strategy and managing outsource partners and suppliers to ensure Food for Health continues to realise its growth potential.  

Managing competing demands

Narelle says Telstra’s services have helped her manage the competing demands of work and motherhood. “I have only been back in the business for a few months after having my daughter,” she says. “Before that, I spent six months at home with her, but continued to drop into the office daily to find out what was happening and see if there was anything I needed to action.”

Technology has made it possible for Narelle to work from different locations and assisted her team to keep building the business in her absence.

Among the products Narelle uses are DOT™ (Digital Office Technology) with an added business mobile plan from Telstra, and a home bundle incorporating a mobile, priority number, Wi-Fi internet and landline.

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A proactive supplier

Narelle has forged a close relationship with the Telstra Business Centre in Mentone. A dedicated account manager calls her team regularly to recommend modifications to plans and packages to minimise costs. “While I was at home with my daughter, I spent a lot of time on my phone and tablet,” Narelle says.

“One of the Telstra team contacted us because they realised our data package wasn’t adequate for my increased usage,” she adds. “This ended up saving us about $200 per month, and that adds up per year.” 

Reliable communication

The reliable performance of Telstra’s mobile network also helped Narelle escape embarrassment – and potentially more serious consequences – in a meeting with one of her largest customers.

“About 12 months ago, I was in a review meeting with Woolworths and five minutes before I was due to go in, I was still waiting for critical sales information,” Narelle recalls. “Coles and Woolworths are very much data-driven. My team eventually received the information from an external supplier, collaborated to pull it together and sent it to me by email. I was able to access it on my phone a couple of minutes before the meeting started,” she recalls. “I was able to read and present well, and the review went very well for the business.”

A dependable network

Narelle’s ambition is to expand Food for Health further into international markets, but to do that she needs easy access to information. When she attends trade shows [within Australia], she relies on Telstra’s network to download data on pricing strategies, which she believes “can be the difference between getting a deal done and not getting a deal done” in a new market.

“If people from China come to me, for example, and say: ‘We’re looking at bringing your products into our market, what is the best price you can give me?’ I need to be able to quickly access data prepared by my team to provide a response. Telstra [helps you] to access live, real data and make the right decisions for your business,” she says. 

Insights from Telstra

“Small business owners and employees need to focus on strategy, vision and execution of business plans, not worry about the reliability, performance and coverage of telecommunications services. Telstra can offer these businesses dedicated advice and service, ongoing support, a reliable network, and a single bill. Most importantly, our professional advisers look to the business owner’s medium and longer term ambitions when considering suitable technologies.” 

Andy Giles-Knopp, Executive Director of Telstra Business – Small Business

Want to see how DOT can help your business?

Check out plans with Telstra today.

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