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Crafty Chef: same old delicious food, now tastes even better for the environment

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In an effort to reduce its impact on the environment, Crafty Chef has recently renovated its food production facility, with a little help from the government. They have replaced the old model blast freezer with a spiral freezer and installed faster packing equipment.

Furthermore, Crafty Chef has recruited a refrigeration specialist, carbon specialist and efficiency specialist. These will implement projects like self-sustaining water heating amongst other changes in an effort to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 50%. These renovations, which have been done over the period of one year, will not only improve the efficiency of the facility but will also reduce its energy consumption.

This renovation project cost a grand total of $1.1 million, of which $600,000 was raised by Crafty Chef itself and the remaining $500,000 was provided as a grant under the Australian Government’s Clean Technology Investment Programs. Greg Combet, Minister for Industry and Innovation announced Crafty Chef as one of 13 initial grant recipients back in June.

The Clean Technology Investment Programs will support green initiatives with more than $1 billion in grants, which “provide practical assistance to help Australian manufacturers in all industries transition to a clean energy future and become cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable.”

These renovations will streamline and improve the meticulously complex process that must be executed to produce the three Crafty Chef brands. Each product contains no less than 30 ingredients – each of which is an integral piece that must be delivered fresh and on time in order to meet schedule.  General Manager Jitesh Gohil attributes this to using localised suppliers – all but one of which are located in Australia – in creating the delicious cuisine that Crafty Chef is known for.

Mr Gohil says Crafty Chef highly values its employees, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. 90% of them are hired through Mission Australia, an organisation that helps people rebuild their lives by regaining employment in the mainstream workforce. In fact, in recognition of Mr Gohil’s efforts, Mission Australia named Crafty Chef “National Employer of the Year 2011”.

He strongly believes that Crafty Chef, “is not just about making money; it is also about making a difference to community,” and that other companies should explore this option. Over the years, Crafty Chef has put more than 500 people back into the workforce – in a life where many of them have been struggling endlessly for employment and to seek a more fulfilling life.  Mr. Gohil says his employees are committed and hardworking.

In operation for nearly 15 years, and currently employing 50 people, Crafty Chef has provided quality frozen meals and finger foods to the Australian supermarket and food service industries to be enjoyed by consumers. Operating three brands – Bella’s Kitchen, The Good Meal and Simply Special – Crafty Chef produces Australian-made, easy-to-prepare dishes that cater to a variety of tastes.

Bella’s Kitchen brand offers delicious, home-style dishes that serve from two to four people, helping families and friends enjoy a meal without the stress associated with complex meal preparation. The Good Meal Co. offers classic dishes traditionally made from scratch that can be frozen and prepared in minutes, not hours. For finger food fanatics, Simply Special brand offers a variety of finger foods, from curry puffs to vegetable samosas that can be enjoyed as a snack, side dish or meal all on their own.

This is a nice example of using raised capital and government grants to drive innovation and growth. In light of the Deloitte research last week that few startups take advantage of available grants, Crafty Chef are a stellar example of what can be achieved.

What do you think of Crafty Chef’s renovation?

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