WEBINAR: Crisis or No Crisis: The Grass is Greener with Santé Barley
Resource Speakers: Peter Hope (GM, Santé NZ) & Mark Hillier (GM, Manufacturing)
Moderators: Joey Marcelo (CEO), Paul Caluag (CNDO)
Date: April 8, 2020
- How is New Zealand affected by COVID-19?
Peter Hope: Well, the first point you have to make is that it is a very unusual and difficult time around the world. Our hearts go out to people who are facing difficulties because of it.
New Zealand is a small country with about four and a half million people. The country is isolated so there’s actually quite a lot of advantages to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What our government did was, they acted very quickly to close the borders and we have been in lockdown at two weeks today.
And as you know, they talk about trying to flatten the curve so that medical facilities won’t be overwhelmed.
It looks like it’s working in New Zealand.
We may be going continue to do it for another 2 weeks, and we are hoping that in that stage, the lockdown is lifted and we will be out.
I can say that New Zealand will be affected economically quite strongly because New Zealand is vastly independent by agriculture. But also, it depends on tourism and that will, that will really dry up.
We are doing okay, that’s the answer.
- What’s happening right now in New Zealand in terms of the harvesting or the manufacturing process? Is business on-going in New Zealand right now?
- Mark Hillier: Business is ongoing, because we are connected with agriculture, obviously. We’ve still got the ability to harvest crops. We have a few more guidelines that we have to stick to with the Ministry of Prime Ministries (MPM), which is, basically, the government that ensures social distancing and that looks after the general health and well-being. Masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and all the rules and regulations are implemented Other than that, we have to minimize the number of staff that we have on site and rest is working at home. We have modified how we do things, slightly. We’ve been able to overcome that, so thankfully, we are still operating as usual.
- What’s the turn around time of every barley shipment from New Zealand to the Philippines and how can we ensure that there will be enough products for distributions amidst enhancedcommunity quarantine? Will there be any issues regarding the international shipments?
- Peter: I will give you a little bit of background about the process of exporting the shipments. For example, some of you may have seen pictures of us packing a 40-foot container that I posted on Facebook a week or so ago.
I was helping the guys packing the container that weighs about 20 tons. On the 25th of March that container was loaded on a ship due to set sail for the Philippines on the 2nd of April, that’s just a few days ago. And this shipment is expected in Manila on the 2nd of May.
So, COVID-19 is not going to affect how fast the boat gets to the Philippines. Generally speaking, the turnaround time for the ship leaving New Zealand is around about 30 days on the water. Now, in New Zealand, we are manufacturing as normal. Mark and the guys are drying about 2.5 tons of barley per day and milling around 1.5 tons per day.
And the guys who are mixing the product with stevia, mix about a ton a day. So, you can imagine like it’s 22 [or] 23 days to mix 20 tons. So, there is no real difference then and now. It’s just the same.
It’s really business as usual. The only thing that is probably affected is air freight. Now, a lot of airlines severely cut back the international routes. But it doesn’t really affect us that much because we don’t transact a lot by air freight.
- How safe or is there any additional steps you are enforcing when it comes to the products, when it comes to barley grass?
- Mark: Yes, There are guidelines that we stick to regardless, because ours is a food-based product. There is much stricter guidelines on hand sanitizing – the use of gloves. when it comes to that it is more based around personnel and the health of the staff rather than the products. The products are already quite strict on how we process the products and how we sanitize the factory now. Anyway, based on the facts that there is, it’s also organic and registered and so. There are extra guidelines there, but it’s very manageable.
- Does this COVID-19 affect the biogro certification in any way because of what’s happening?
- No, it doesn’t. We were audited, the Wednesday – 2 weeks ago the day we were put into lockdown. Prior to that, in the morning we had a biogro order, it hasn’t made any difference tothe certification process of biogro certification.
- Vitamin C in Barley
- Peter: Mark and I are farmers, so we probably don’t think too much about the nutrients side of product. But, yes, it has Vitamin C along with a lot of other nutrients. My personal view is that people should be talking barley to help in general immunity and help them stay healthy. I don’t take anything in particular, I’m not a doctor and I certainly wouldn’t say anything that wouldstop you from getting COVID-19. But it stands to reason that the healthier you are, the stronger your immunity is, and the more likely you are to remain healthy.
- What are the measures being undertaken to ensure an interactive (or uninterrupted?) supply of barley grass?
- Peter: I have been supplying barley from New Zealand since 2012, and I think everyone should remember that with a direct selling business, you can never run out of product because it’s the last thing that we want. You can never run out of product.
So this has been at the front of our minds, planning the harvest, the planting, the manufacture up to planning the shipment for years. So, things really haven’t changed. Yes, there are regulations that are coming. New Zealand is open for business in agricultureYou can be rest assured that the system is working as it normally does to make sure that there is no break in supply. We always have that challenge in front of us.
If you guys, double in sales, we have that challenge in front of us. So, it’s always there, nothing new. If you are worried about it, calm your fears because we are working busily here to supply you.
- Mark: The COVID-19 hasn’t had an impact on current stocks. We always have stock because it’s a natural product, we never predict what the weather’s gonna do each season, so there is a level of stock there to meet against situations like this. Obviously, we never thought that this would ever appear but there’s always stock there and rest assured that you won’t be running out.
- In this crisis, what are the problems encountered so far and what are the actions taken?
- Joey: On the part of our partners in New Zealand, when it comes to the supply of barley grass, there is no problem at all. So, as of this moment, we have ample stock of barley grass, we have a lot of finished products in our warehouse.
We’ve already anticipated that, by the time the COVID crisis happened not only in the Philippines but in China, we already anticipated that, and we have produced an ample amount of products.
Are there any problems we are encountering right now? the answer is yes. Number one, logistics. We’re having a challenge when it comes to delivering the products, because most of our couriers right now stopped the cash on delivery (COD) type of service, but our couriers have always been doing COD. They cannot do COD right now.
One of our main couriers, which is LBC, can only pick-up products from our warehouse a maximum of three times per week. We are having challenges also in shipping products outside in different Santé countries. So right now, the main problems that we are encountering are logistical problems which we will be trying to solve in the coming days.
Some future challenges that we might be able to encounter? I hope not in the coming months, but the supply chain might be an issue. It’s not only a challenge for us but it’s a challenge for everyone else. New Zealand can supply barley grass, but the question is, can the supplier of the box accommodate our requirements in the coming months, because if they stopped their operations, no one will be able to manufacture our boxes. Those are the problems that might happen in the coming days.
But I assure you, we have already contacted all our suppliers and we are doing whatever it takes to provide for our needs, especially in times of crisis because they know that our products are considered as essential products. They need to comply with our needs in the shortest possible time. There will be delays, you have to accept that fact.
There will be delays, but I think every company right now, every supplier of Santé, is doing whatever it takes in order to at least expedite their deliveries, the manufacturing, and the production. So, everyone is doing whatever it takes to address our current concern.
- Have you painted the worst case scenario in case [that] unusual event happens?
- Joey: In our company, we also have several plans. Right now, we have plans A,B, C maybe up to E, and G. We already have worst case scenarios. Of course, we don’t want to talk about negative possibilities because we are anticipating that something big will happen in the coming months positively, in terms of our business.
I would just like to share this with you, there’s a saying that, “The only losers in this time of crisis are those people who won’t be able to capitalize the opportunities of this crisis.” Those people who will not learn from this crisis will be the losers.
Right now, Santé is exploring all the possibilities. Our goal is to create momentum, so that after this crisis, we’re still on a roll, we’re still doing big things for our distributors.
No amount of crisis can stop what Santé is doing for our Business Owners.
- We have been receiving feedback from our customers, that there were changes in our powder. The color is so light and the taste is not the same as well. Can you help us explain this to our customers?
- Peter: Since I’ve been working with Santé I think I’ve been through 20 seasons, so I guess the best way I can help you with this is to suggest you think about each year like a wine vintage, Every season is like a wine vintage. Sometimes you get great wine in certain years but it’s a bit different than other years. And it’s the same with a natural product like barley, the combination of sunshine and rain and temperature can do different things to the color of the leaf.
I think, universally, the guys on the farm and Mark would agree with me, that spring back in 2019 was not the best for color. There’s not a lot we can do.
To be perfectly honest because what we do is, we harvest the product in its premium stage andthen we dry it, and then we mill it and that’s it. We don’t touch it after that. So, we can’t really put green food coloring. We just have to live with what nature has given us. If it’s any consolation, genuinely autumn crops tend to be a bit greener. It is interesting to see what they come through. But if I were you, and I was explaining it to a customer, I would approach it that way. I would say, it’s a bit like wine some years have great vintages some years don’t have such great vintages. So, unfortunately, spring 2019 wasn’t a classic vintage for us.
- Mark: I completely agree with what Peter said. The one thing I will say is that, the solemn heroes behind all this is the farmers.
They can do everything that they possibly can to grow a stunning crop. All the timings are perfect, timing for organic fertilizers is perfect, the paddocks are in the best shape that they possibly can be. Last year, spring was a weather challenge. We did notice the difference since then, the products we are harvesting now and the products we are harvesting when this is over, a month ago now is just stunning—very nice products. There’s always going to be a certain amount of variation when it comes to the color. It doesn’t make it any different from the point of view of what’s in the product, the benefits behind the product, it’s just a slight variation in the color of the product.
- Peter: The one thing I would say is that, if you got barley product and you compare it with the same product from different countries in perhaps Australia, perhaps China, you would find the very worst of our product is better than just anywhere in the world. Some places do really good product, Japanese do good product but they don’t do it in the same volume as we do. It’s a year to year thing, and you have control over other things but not over everything.
- Is there also change in the nutrient facts or the nutrition inside barley? Does the varying of season also affect the amount of vitamins and minerals in the barley?
- Peter: Honestly, I don’t think so. But, I’m not a food scientist. So, I know there is some variation in levels. But, I can put my hand on my hat and the same absolutely that there is no variation in the nutrient levels. I just can ‘cause I don’t know. We would need to do a study of nutrient level over time across the number of That’s the only way that we can prove it or just prove it.
- Mark: There will be differences but it will be absolutely miniscule, I would have believe. The testing that we’ve done here on multiple lawns is not for that purpose, just the purpose for our testing to make sure that everything is where it should There’s minimal difference between batch to batch but Peter’s correct , if the test is done, you need to do over multiple years and different seasons: Spring coming to winter or autumn.