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Rights: © Copyright 2014. University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
Published 27 June 2014
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Chris Cullen started out making hot sauces as a hobby. In this video, he describes his journey from a hobby to a rapidly expanding business.

Follow-up activities

  • In small groups, think of a product you could produce and sell at a farmers’ market. Pitch your idea to the class (in lieu of the farmers’ market management). Justify the viability of your product by identifying the resources you will need and how you will source them (consider human, physical and environmental resources). Identify your target market and justify why your product is likely to appeal to this consumer group.
  • Assuming that your product is successful at the farmers’ market, identify what would need to happen to develop your product to sell in retail stores and how this would impact on production.

Transcript

Chris Cullen
Growing up, as kids, we were exposed to very sort of exotic foods. Mum was from Fiji, so it was quite often curries for dinner, and we had Japanese neighbours, so being exposed to sushi and sashimi. So as a child, I had quite a palate for hot foods and chillies.

So when I left school, I cheffed for about 12 years, and it was just a hobby thing. I used to do little small 5 litre batches of chillies and put them in baby food jars and give them away, so I sort of knew that I had something that people liked.

When I left the cheffing industry, I still did the little batches at home, and about 4 years ago, a friend of mine had a stand at the Clevedon farmers’ market. He was doing very good business, so I thought I might give this hot sauce a bit of a run at the markets. That was the birth of the business, and so a few weeks later, I set up my first stand and it was very, very well received and just organically grew from the Clevedon farmers’ market.

At the time, I was renting a day kitchen every now and again, and that worked very well while I was at Clevedon. The product sort of grew. Then a lot of people were saying they struggled to get to Clevedon to buy it, which encouraged me to look at retail, so presented to Farro probably about 2 years ago, they took 13 SKUs, or 13 products.

It was really good news, but it was also a bit of a problem, because how am I going to service three retail stores with that much product plus doing the markets, plus doing a full-time job? That’s where I found out about The FOODBOWL and never looked back. It just enabled me to really increase the product capacity and continue in my full-time job.

Culley’s has changed from working at The FOODBOWL because it’s freed up a lot of my time to really focus on growing the business. We can produce so much product in 1 or 2 or 3-day production runs that it means that I can actually get out, meet the customers and really sell the product more. I think it’s been key to the growth of the company.

Acknowledgements
Chris Cullen, Culley’s

Footage of curry ingredients in pot, courtesy of proudlyindian007za Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Shot of sashimi on platter, courtesy of proudlyindian007za Angel Mojo Guzman Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

The Clevedon Village Farmer’s Market

Photo of chilli sauce in pot, copyrighted property of Elena Moiseeva
Photo of chilli sauce in jar, copyrighted property of Yelenayemchuk
Both photos licensed through 123RF Limited and are being used with permission under licence. These photos may not be copied or downloaded without permission from 123RF Limited.