Originally written for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald.
Running out of bread for her kids’ sandwiches led Miriam Mulcahy to Aussie Farmers Direct and its door-to-door delivery convenience.
Having used the company for years she is now one of 100,000 registered customers who will have to find a new way to fill their cupboards after the fresh food delivery service went into voluntary administration on Monday morning.
Mulcahy, like many customers left scrambling at the news, was unaware the business was facing difficulties in the first place.
“I was very surprised. I had no idea there was any problem, I thought they were doing fine,” the 47-year-old Sydney mother says.
Mulcahy also liked the company’s stated commitment to putting farmers first by providing direct connections to consumers outside of the supermarket duopoly.
“I wanted to support paying farmers properly,” she says.
Mulcahy says she will now have to put more effort into planning her grocery shopping.
“I don’t get to have somebody else deciding what I’m going to eat for the week,” she says.
“Cooking for a family, that’s the thing that gets really tedious – constantly having to decide.”
Chiropractic assistant and 56-year-old mother of two, Kathleen McCord, loved the convenience offered by the service but stopped using it a few years ago after a series of thefts.
“It meant I could have things delivered to home and didn’t have to put everyone in the car just to go down the street and get some milk,” she says.
“[But] this guy was going around the neighbourhood, pinching peoples’ deliveries while they were asleep. I’d still be using their service now if it wasn’t for him.”
McCord, who lives in Melbourne’s inner west, was also unaware the business was struggling.
“I didn’t know they were going under, so it’s a real shame. They were a great company.”
Jill Flanagan liked Aussie Farmers Direct’s preference for local workers and produce.
“I was really happy that it was local people they sourced their produce from, I liked that it was mostly Australian made, I liked the convenience of having it here when I got up in the morning,” she says.
“It also seemed to last longer as well, because it was probably fresher.”
The Geelong nurse also stopped using the service recently, once her eldest child moved out of home.
“It just got to the point where I was buying stuff I didn’t need. Now it’s just my husband and I at the house. We now shop virtually day to day, so we don’t waste food.”
While she no longer uses its service, she says “a lot of people will be disappointed. Probably people will realise, now it’s gone, how good it was – which is a shame.”
Freelance writer and student Paul Waxman, 20, felt the company’s convenience was its biggest selling point.
“My parents both have quite busy occupations, and they didn’t really have the time every day to go to the supermarket,” he said.
“The fact that it eliminates having to go to the shops makes it pretty easy. You just don’t have to think about it.”
Not everyone was a fan, though.
Twitter user Tom Hawkins claimed he “once used them but stopped due to their rising prices.”
“When we emailed to question the rises, got a rude email back basically saying we were ‘un-Australian’ and were supporting multinationals over Aussie companies. Fair to say the rudeness did not persuade us to stay with them!”