HAWKESBURY residents Brett Monaghan and Jonny Ginis will be representing NSW at trade exhibition Fine Food Australia in Melbourne in October.
The pair run Eclipse Organics, a Richmond-based manufacturer of muesli and food bars, and their business is one of only twelve food manufacturers from the state chosen to exhibit on the NSW Government’s ‘Flavours of NSW’ stand.
Mr Monaghan, CEO and founder of the business, said this would be the second year they had exhibited on the NSW Government stand, following a “huge success” last year, especially with getting the word out there to export companies.
“With the Chinese and European companies, being recognised by government gives you a bit of extra ‘cred’ when there’s so many players out there in the market,” he told the Gazette.
Last year, they began exporting to China. “We were taken by a big distributor who saw the merits of what we do,” said Mr Monaghan.
“They were looking for a muesli company, and they looked in Europe, America, and chose us out of the blue from the merit reports.
“We met in person at the Fine Foods stand in 2017, and when they saw us on the NSW Government stand, that clinched the deal - it gave us a lot of cred.”
The Eclipse story
The idea for Eclipse Organics began around eight years ago when Mr Monaghan returned to Sydney after living in Europe for a decade. While over there, he noticed the locals in France and Italy didn’t eat muesli for breakfast like his friends and family did back home. So, he began to make his own.
“Then when I returned I couldn’t find any decent muesli in the shops here, so I continued to make my own. Someone tried it one day and said ‘that’s awesome, you should do that as a business!’ So, we gave it a go,” he said.
They took a punt on entering one of their mueslis into a competition at The Royal Easter Show - and they won. During their first two years of competing, they won best untoasted and best toasted muesli at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Awards.
“That was quite massive. That told us we had a business,” said Mr Monaghan. “My cousin’s friend was also running an organics expo in the city, so we did that expo, and we haven’t looked back.”
Around 2010, the opened a health food shop called Eclipse Wholefoods near the Woodhills Car Park in Richmond. They ran the shop for four years, and continued going to expos and winning awards on the side.
“That part of the business just kept growing and so we decided to close the shop, and we took over a factory at the end of the RAAF base in Richmond,” Mr Monaghan said.
They signed-on with a Sydney distributor, and soon business was successful enough for them to take over the factory next door to theirs, on Bowman Street.
Eclipse Organics mueslis, food bars and wholefoods are now sold in health food shops, grocers and independent supermarkets from Tasmania right the way up to Christmas Island. And, of course, in China. “We have a pretty wide tread now,” Mr Monaghan said.
In 2016, they were named Business of the Year at the Australian Organic Annual Awards - the first non-farming business to win the accolade.
“We’re very community-minded. We’re a bit of a family-orientated business,” said Mr Monaghan, adding that it was important for the company to give back to the community.
“I make an ongoing commitment to give one day’s worth of production every month to local charity. We give to Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands and The Living Room - it’s a nice way to give back,” he said.
Eclipse Organics now employs seven workers, and they continue to make all their products by hand in small batches. Their flagship product is the Organic Toasted Paleo Nut & Fruit Crunch Muesli.
“It’s our most expensive product and yet we sell double that than everything. It has this cult-like following - people become addicted to it!” Mr Monaghan said.
“When we cook, we have so many people knock on the door [of our manufacturing plant in Richmond], and they say ‘I live up the road and we smell this beautiful smell, what is it?!’ We’re baking all day - coconut, cacao and chocolate.”
The business is now moving into a new area, of ‘functional food’ offerings, which will be launched officially at the upcoming Fine Food Australia expo.
“We’re developing a whole range of protein bars and shake products, for weight loss and weight gain, using natural foods like cocaco and matcha powder,” Mr Monaghan said.
“We’ve realised the importance and lack of good quality sports nutrition out there, so we’re launching the Eclipse Active range, which will be the active part of our range for health and weight management.”
Eclipse Organics works with Western Sydney University to give students studying food technology experience out in the industry, and they recently employed a graduate who had been interning with the company.
Recently, the company sent over 1,000 food bars to struggling farmers out west.
“I hope our Eclipse Bars can give some of our farmers a bit of a boost on those hard days on the farm,” said Mr Monaghan.
Hawkesburians can find Eclipse Organics products locally in Richmond at Green Hills Organics, Hawkesbury Herbs & Healing, Health Foods And You, and the Richmond Fruit Market, as well as direct from the factory (Thursdays only) located at at 3/31 Bowman Street.
Orders can also be made online at eclipseorganics.com.au.