- A small business owner has taken her range of beeswax food wraps from a market stall in Byron Bay to the shelves of ALDI.
- She says being picked up by the global retailer is a sign that customers don’t just want sustainable products to be accessible — they expect them to be affordable too.
- “This whole shift has happened” that has made demand for products like hers part of the mainstream, owner of Apiwraps, Freyja Tasci, said.
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The year was 2012 and Freyja Tasci was desperately trying to stop her celery wilting without using single-use plastic.
At the time, she was living in Byron Bay with a child with allergies; tapped into the nascent alternative community and finishing a Masters degree in Colonial poetry.
As part of her studies, she read about the practice of using oilskins as a means of preserving food; and, it being the early 2010s on the NSW east coast, it’s only natural the next part of this story is Trasci deciding the key to solving her celery problems was to figure out how to make it herself.
“If a colonial housewife can make it, I’m sure I can make it,” Trasci told Business Insider Australia.
The result of her efforts was API Wraps, one of the first beeswax food wrap products on the market in Australia — and now stocked at ALDI.
The product has been stocked as part of the international supermarket chain’s Sustainable Living range from June 26 at ALDI stores around Australia, and Trasci said the move from the global discount giant to stock her brand is symbolic of the transformation of sustainable products from a niche sector found at health food stores and high end shops to something that’s not only affordable but accessible too.
Even in Byron Bay in the early days, “people would walk past my market stall, and they’d do a double take,” she said.
“There was a lot of interest early on, even from people who hadn’t really thought about sustainability,” she said.
In the 10 years since she launched, Trasci said there has been a change in attitude from understanding that single-use products are harmful but not really knowing what to do about it, to a growing market of products that are readily available to fill the gaps.
“I think people understood that single-use plastic isn’t great,” she said.
“But I think that what has changed is the attitude [from] ‘single use plastic isn’t great, but we need to use it anyway,’ to ‘single-use plastic isn’t great, and we need to replace it with something else.’
“This whole shift has happened.”
‘It moved faster than I was ready for’
Trasci said the process of moving from a small market stall in Byron to a national wholesaler has been a whirlwind.
“Our business has not grown with a lot of strategy, because it was so reactive,” she said.
“It moved faster than I was ready for and I was scrambling to keep up right from the start.”
While Trasci started out boiling linseed and coconut oils in her kitchen, now she’s working with a manufacturing company and building a small team working out of a shed on the outskirts of Byron Bay. But she’s insists the process, which uses traditional techniques that are still incredibly effective, has barely changed.
“The supplier of beeswax in New South Wales is a family company. They’re the third generation of beekeeping; I love that,” she said.
“I mix the compounds in-house. And I take that to our partner company, where we run the textile through the wax. And then I take it back and I cut it into pieces,” she said.
‘People are looking for eco-friendly products’
Trasci said the partnership with ALDI came out of a shot in the dark. “I put a proposal to the front desk,” she said.
She had traditionally sold her products to independent health retailers and higher-end supermarkets like Harris Farm. Being picked up by ALDI has contributed to her company achieving profitability this year.
“ALDI has been such a great company to work with,” Trasci said. “They are very transparent, they are very willing to listen to what will work and what won’t work for me for my processes.”
“We are looking forward to a much more profitable business,” she added, meaning they can invest in developing new product ranges to market over the next year.
It’s part of what she sees as a growing trend toward larger retailers offering sustainable products too, led by customer demand.
“They’re looking for solutions to live with a lighter footprint and be able to participate in the consumption of things in a more thoughtful way,” she said of today’s shoppers.
“They’re giving consumers the opportunity to make that move towards using something that’s actually going to be much better in their lives than the plastic would have been.”