There must be something in the soil: shire grocers dominate the Sydney Markets Fresh Awards finals, taking seven of the 24 top spots from around NSW and the ACT.
The 2021 Greengrocer Awards - part of the Fresh Awards - recognises greengrocers across a range of categories. All nominees are mystery-shopped throughout the year to determine the winners.
Store appearance, customer service, produce quality, range, freshness, product knowledge, culinary execution, merchandising and branding all come into it.
Kareela Grocer and The Whole Fruit and Grocery Store at Sylvania are among the Service Excellence Finalists.
Three of the four Best Small Business Finalists are Jannali Quality Fruit and Vegetables, Menai Top Of The Crop, and The Whole Fruit and Grocery Store at Sylvania.
Kareela Grocer and Sutherland Best Fresh are finalists in the Best Medium Business category.
Kareela Grocer owner Paul Moraitis said it was "external validation that we're doing the right thing by most people".
"It's our passion for quality, our experience in the industry which spans over 40 years and the fantastic staff we have - the team have a lot of produce experience and they have a passion for what they do," he said.
The family-owned business began in 2010 and has evolved to deliver salads, sliced meats, cheeses and continental groceries as well as fruits and vegetables. It has a wholesale arm that supplies to shire restaurants and cafes.
"Our online business has exploded during COVID-19. People from the shire can purchase online [at kareelagrocer.com.au] and we'll deliver," said Mr Moraitis.
Sydney Markets CEO Brad Latham said: "The Fresh Awards shines a light on the achievements of local business owners, talent and the fresh industry as a whole. They have all survived the turmoil of the past two years and should be celebrated."
Winners will be announced on Wednesday, September 8 at freshawards.com.au