Published: 29 Nov 2021
The business plan Camila Campos developed through The University of Tasmania’s Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness: Masterclass in Horticultural Business, has resulted in the creation of a localised solution to a global problem when it comes to food waste.
Offered through the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and developed in partnership with some of the world’s leading names in horticulture, including New Zealand’s Lincoln University, the Wageningen Research Academy in the Netherlands, and Hort Innovation, the course equips current and future farm managers, owners and employers with the agribusiness skills and capabilities required to run profitable and sustainable farm businesses.
Camila is a market development representative for Seminis, a vegetable seed business owned by Bayer. She is based in Toowoomba. She moved to Australia from Argentina where she studied Agricultural Engineering.
With a desire to build on her studies and extend her knowledge in horticulture, Camila began to research courses before landing on the Masterclass in Horticultural Business.
“The option of online and flexible learning appealed to me – you can do it while having a full-time job” Camila said.
Camila began her studies in July 2020 and delivered her business plan in September 2021.
Two initial ideas were discarded before she landed on a plan that was partly inspired by the covid-19 pandemic: Imperfood – a business selling imperfect fruit and vegetable boxes in south-east Queensland.
She recognised there was a rise in online shopping and new demand for home delivery, plus the border restrictions shrunk the labour market.
“With Imperfood we want to help local growers as much as possible buying their second-grade produce, giving them the opportunity of selling produce that otherwise would go to waste. And, at the same time, help to reduce food waste and give consumers convenient access to sustainable, affordable, and healthy food.
“An essential part of the business is the media, through social media we want to share crop information, food waste facts, growers’ stories, explain some of the causes of the vegetables’ defects, and try to bring the customer closer to the grower.”
While the home-delivered produce box is not a new one, Camila identified two key points of difference that would apply to Imperfood: range and reach.
The south-east Queensland farms she regularly visits through her role with Seminis grow the most diverse range of commercial fruit and vegetables of any area in Australia and is rated among the top-ten most fertile farming areas in the world.
“From the Granite Belt to Brisbane, there are crops the whole year round, from apples, strawberries, tomatoes, capsicums, beans, sweet corn, onions, brassicas and so much more,” Camila said.
The brand was conceived by emphasising the concept that people, like plants and animals, are imperfect by nature, unique.
“We took the concept and transferred it to the world of horticulture to give value to the vegetables and fruits that are generally thrown away for having ‘cosmetic’ imperfections.”
Camila said her business plan presentation itself inspired more ideas for Imperfood, with a suggestion to incorporate growers’ vehicles into the business model delivery logistics.
“Networking for me was probably the most important part of the Masterclass,” Camila said.
“In my case, it pushed me to create the business plan. I don’t have a family business and I didn’t really have an idea. I wanted to finish it and do it, but in the end, it worked out well. You never know when an idea can be a good one.
“I am not a business-focused person, but I am driven to create changes in customer perception to try to help growers and make an impact.”
The Masterclass in Horticultural Business will provide current and future horticultural managers around the country the knowledge and skills to maximise farm performance and lead successful teams.
The units are typically delivered over an 18-month period with individual flexible study plans allowing participants to study during periods of seasonal workload and around personal circumstances.