Seasoned by the sea
Coastal Spring Lamb is already a well-respected brand in New Zealand and, through a partnership with Classic Fine Foods, is now being compared to some of the best produce from around the world. From Scottish Salmon to Spanish Jamón Serrano and even Alaskan Crab, Coastal Spring Lamb and Coastal Lamb are up there with the best of them in international markets. So what’s the secret to the founders, Richard and Suze Redmayne’s success? Well it’s not so much a secret, but a whole lot of time, hard work, and passion.
“It’s all about passion. What we’ve seen in the market is that people pick up on your passion really quickly and if you’re passionate then you tend to engender more interest,” says Richard.
The company was founded in 2010 after the Redmayne family identified a market niche: Kiwis who wanted to enjoy New Zealand’s first new season spring lamb, as traditionally this has been sent overseas. Since then, the business has grown steadily, providing satisfaction and real purpose for a group of 11 farming families across the East and West Coast who, first and foremost, want to have a connection with their customers.
For Richard, promoting the business is a direct reflection of the family values he was raised on.
“A brand is a pretty broad term – it encompasses everything from your business to whether you shined your shoes. Or at least that’s what my grandmother used to tell me,” he laughs.
“My farming values were passed down from my father. He always taught us that quality was the most important thing. Every year, we strive to deliver consistent quality to our customers.”
Coastal Spring Lambs grow quickly on a fine pasture composed of rye grass, clover and herbs to produce tantalizing, succulent meat – naturally seasoned by the sea. From its modest one farm beginning, the business now provides 30,000 lambs to Kiwi consumers through high end restaurants, New World supermarkets nationwide and selected Pak n Save’s. The company is also now exporting 55,000 lambs and has recently added two more families to keep up with demand.
The export business is based on Coastal Spring Lamb (Oct – Jan) and Coastal Lamb (Feb – Sept) and is so far providing cuts to restaurants in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Belgium and Dubai as well as selected retailers.
This emphasis on quality and family has led Richard to volunteer as the face of the business, undersigning its excellence with a personal guarantee.
“We’re in store 3 days a week for most of the season, we go to different supermarkets where we cook the product and ask people to taste it. We do about 2-3 hour stints and so during those sessions we can have 150-200 conversations direct with consumers.”
“Our brand has really evolved as we go along and as we listen to what we have been told – the feedback we get from customers is really important to us.”
Domestically, as well as servicing more than 200 supermarkets, Coastal Spring Lamb can be found in some of the top restaurants around the country. From Nero’s in Palmerston North, to Logan Brown in Wellington, to Christchurch’s Pescatore and Chillingworth Road, the Redmayne’s are particular with the restaurants they supply, working closely with Auckland’s Neat Meat and Chef’s Choice from Wanganui.
“We offered the companies exclusivity with the product, with the intention being that we don’t want to be in too many restaurants, we just want to be in a few in each city, at the very top end. We met a lot of the chefs using our lamb and we now do a fair bit with some of them. Three of the chefs that support Coastal Spring Lamb are currently NZ Beef and Lamb ambassadors, which is exciting,” says Richard.
“Working with the chefs becomes part of the fabric of what you do, they are good fun, and what they say really resonates with the customers. We work together to give them a point of difference so they get the first spring lamb of the season.”
“We are the official lamb supplier for the Black Sticks women’s team. We decided we wanted to partner with someone who we felt aligned with the brand and the Black Stick’s do. Some of the Coastal Spring Lamb farming families have children involved in hockey and we’ve followed the team – they also live a healthy lifestyle and are cool active women. We approached them to see if we could partner and they were up for it.”
Richard and Suze enjoy working with the Black Sticks and the team have already helped show them just how important social media can be in publicising and advertising the brand.
“Social media is becoming more and more important. When you see some of the Black Sticks post a photo, they can get several thousand likes in a matter of half an hour. We need to figure out how to get better in that space, but in saying that a lot of our market is over the age of 45 so they may not have Instagram, ultimately we wouldn’t sacrifice our in store face to face meetings.”
As Richard and Suze are responsible for all the behind the scenes and day-to-day running of Coastal Spring Lamb, they manage to prioritise where they put their time and energy. Over the next few months that will be spent travelling, meeting with their farmers-suppliers, chefs, customers and others as they set their sights on becoming “the leading lamb brand in the world.”