Ranged & Ready

EP2 - Advice from Lemon Fresh, a veteran in FMCG

Lemon Fresh has become a pantry staple for most Kiwis; we all know about the white pouches of fresh lemon and lime juice. Lemon Fresh is stocked in the majority of Foodstuffs and Progressive stores and many boutique retailers. It has product ranges in Australia and is reaching out globally as we speak.

We speak with Rhona Mackenzie, owner and founder of Lemon Fresh and long-time veteran of the Supermarket world, about her product’s journey from start to finish and get some advice for new players into the market.

What got you into FMCG:

When we moved to New Zealand from the UK, we wanted to settle somewhere rural, and we fell in love with Keri Keri. We purchased a lemon orchard, knowing nothing about lemons, but we sure learned fast! We had an abundance of lemons and no idea what to do with them, so we came up with a few product ideas. We originally had about 15 or so products, but it was the Lemon and Lime Juice that people were most interested in, so that’s where we focused.

How did you go from basic selling to being in Supermarkets:

Somewhat serendipitously, I had the opportunity to sit down for a quick coffee with the owner of New World Keri Keri each week. He’d rip my business plan to shreds every week until I had it just right. Then he said, “Ok, I will introduce you to the other store owners,” As soon as he said that, he literally sent out an email saying, “This is Rhona. She makes lemon juice, range her please,” and the rest was up to me!

What was the biggest challenge for you when your Lemon Fresh products started in supermarkets?

Getting the product actually on the shelf and keeping it on there! It sounds really basic, but it’s way more challenging than you can imagine.  The joys of working in FMCG!

How has your brand changed since its inception?

We have kept the brand the same since we started. As much as I would love to redesign the packaging, it’s just something that people have grown up with and recognize. Changing it would create a whole new voice, and, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’

What have you done to keep your products popular or further your business?

Looking at other avenues to branch into beyond supermarket shelves has been important for us. We’ve got ranging in Australia with the Dan Murphy’s liquor chain. You can’t make a decent Mojito without lime juice! It’s a perfect match for us, aligning with a liquor outlet.

We have also launched 2 new SKU’s with ginger and turmeric. This has given us a wider net for marketing and collaboration with other brands and stores. The ginger and turmeric also provide a wonderful connection to our neighbours in the Pacific, with the raw products provided by Ranadi Organics in Fiji.

What have been some of the craziest things you’ve had to do for your brand?

Probably staying up till 3 am to have a zoom call with potential suppliers in other countries! Sitting in your business best in the middle of the night, waiting to present something you’ve been working on for weeks, definitely makes you realize just how much you love what you do!

What are a few tips you could give small FMG brands looking to get ranged?

  1. Make use of all your connections, don’t be afraid to ask for help! be a squeaky wheel!
  2. Listen to theadvice of those gone before you, FMCG war stories are gold. Learn from others mistakes so you don’t make the same ones.
  3. Understand your catagories in all markets like the back of your hand.