Nelson-based Proper Crisps has established a crisp manufacturing plant in Yarra Valley, near Melbourne to manufacture its crisps using Australian potatoes specifically for the Australian market.
Proper Crisps has been selling its New Zealand made crisps in Australia since 2019.
“Demand for Proper Crisps saw its Australian sales double in 2021 with the Australian market currently providing 20 per cent of Proper Crisps business.”
Proper Crisps are now stocked in 1500 stores across VIC, NSW, QLD and WA, with the business aiming for similar growth in the Australian market this year as it experienced in 2021.
The decision to work with Australian potato growers to produce a tailor-made range for the Australian market acknowledges the difference between Australian and New Zealand consumers, says Proper Crisps General Manager Andy Leonard.
“We believe we make the best crisps in New Zealand and our goal is to also make the best crisps in Australia,” Mr Leonard said. “Like New Zealanders, Aussies want to know they are supporting local farmers who are working hard to provide great food products for us all. The plant in Yarra Valley gives us the opportunity to work with Australian crisp lovers to make the best crisps for them.”
“We wanted to apply the same commitment we have to working with local suppliers and local produce in New Zealand in the Australian context.”
Proper Crisps worked with an agronomist and local farmers in Australia trialling potato varieties as the iconic Agria potato it uses in New Zealand is not commonly grown in Australia. Trials were scaled up and cooks managed from New Zealand, with crisps airfreighted back for taste testing in New Zealand before being released for sale in Australia. Austrlian-based staff were trained to oversee the entire crisp manufacturing process by hand, just as it is done in Nelson.
“The people who make our crisps in New Zealand and now in Australia are chefs of real food not button pushers,” Mr Leonard said. “They work hard to capture the perfect thickness, cook, crispness factor and Proper flavours.
“The link between the Australian and New Zealand teams will remain strong as our owners and members of our New Zealand leadership team are spending time in Australia running production and supporting the Australian team this year. We will also be bringing lead staff in Australia to Nelson to reinforce our shared culture of doing things the Proper way.
Proper Crisps has been a fast-growing snack brand in New Zealand for 15 years. Its success has been based on building long-term partnerships with local suppliers and a commitment to quality.
“Being a family owned and managed business, with Ned & Mina at the helm is also something that sets us apart,” Mr Leonard said. “The owner’s son Eddie has been overseeing production for the Yarra Valley operation and is currently in Australia.”
The establishment of the Yarra Valley manufacturing operation is a courageous move, particularly in the current context of huge economic disruption due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, Mr Leonard says that in many ways, Covid-19 gave them the push they needed to secure the future of their Australian business.
“Covid-related supply chain disruptions coupled with increased demand for our product in Australia gave us the impetus we needed to take this next step.
“We hope that we inspire other business owners to be just bold,” Mr Leonard said. “Being brave in the face of adversity will be the key to recovery for us all. We believe that consumers will support brands who are willing to take the initiative at a time like this.”
Nelson will remain the heaquarters for Proper Crisps. Products made in Yarra will include Marlborough Sea Salt, Cider Vinegar, Smoked Paprika, Rosemary and Thyme, Onion and Chive, Free Range Sage & Onion and Barbeque Rub. The Home compostable, Vege and Tortilla ranges will continue to be manufactured in New Zealand for now.
“We are all very excited by this next step in the Proper Crisps journey,” Mr Leonard said. “We couldn’t do it without the amazing support of everyone who enjoys our crisps in New Zealand. It’s time now for us to establish our roots in Australia and share the Proper magic with our friends across the Tasman.”