CEO Update - Food and Travel...interview with Paul Moraitis from Morco Fresh
November 4, 2020
Food and travel – the essence of life!
Of all the things I’ve missed doing this year, travelling overseas has to be top of the list. Food and travel go hand in hand – some of the best eating experiences have been in other countries. Airline food has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years – the explosion in health-focused eating has found its way onto our flights...not that we're going anywhere at the moment!
Paul Moraitis is the Executive Chairman of Morco Fresh, a family company like us with a passion for fresh produce over decades. Among other customers, they have supplied airlines. Paul shares his thoughts about the power of fresh food, how food has transformed over time, and his top travel destinations!
Like us, your family has a long, strong history in fresh produce in Australia. In your eyes, how has food transformed in your time?
My family spans 3 generations in the fresh produce industry. On top of that I have a personal friendship with the Simonettas that spans 35 years. The transformation in food over the years has been far and wide but in my belief it has expedited in the last 10-15 years. We have evolved from very basic Australian cuisine and way of life into a multicultural haven. When I was young growing up, if you wanted a international meal the local Chinese restaurant was about as exotic as you got. Since then the options are as expansive as you can get. Italian, Greek, Thai, Indian, Japanese just to name a few and each of them hold a special place in people’s hearts when it comes to a discretional meal.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a critical part of our diet. What foods do you seek out to keep yourself and your family healthy?
When it comes to fruit and vegetables the choice is far and wide, so it boils down to personal choice. The industry has done some amazing development with new varieties of products so when consumed it’s a wonderful experience. Some of the products you will see regularly in my household are Blueberries (super food) Raspberries, Strawberries, Grapes – all easy to prepare, in fact they’re among the easiest. Vegetables, Broccolini® (an amazing product), Corn, Baby Cos Lettuce and seasonal stone fruit like Cherries, Mangoes, Peaches and Nectarines.
You supply a lot of fresh produce to restaurants and also the airline industry. COVID must have provided a challenge. What do you most like about that part of that industry? How have you overcome the COVID challenges?
We do supply a significant amount of produce to restaurants and airlines, and you’re not wrong about COVID being a challenge. It is literally an unplannable event for anybody no matter what business or industry you are involved in on the planet. March was like falling off a cliff especially when all international and domestic borders were closed. Airlines were grounded and the same, most of the hospitality industry was closed. The old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is 100% correct. We are fortunate to have an amazing team which is headed up by my family members, so we all sat down and developed a plan which changed the way we operated and the main focus was about reducing costs increasing efficiency and at the same time still delivering a service platform that satisfied the most important people in any business, our customers. What I love about the food service industry is that has a totally different dynamic to the wholesale/retail sector which we were a part of for 35 years and still today. In food service, we interact a lot with chefs and procurement teams; each of them is extremely talented and also each has a different requirement for what they deal with, unlike dealing with retailers and buyers.
Speaking of airlines, do you travel a lot? If so, what’s your favourite place to visit, and why?
The fresh produce industry has provided me with an opportunity to travel the world and at the same time create friendships that I hold dearly and still stay in constant contact today. At the same time, I got the chance to test places that I believe my family would love. I have a few favourite places – southern Italy, Positano, Capri, and the Greek Islands for the relaxed lifestyle, pure waterways and wonderful cuisine. Hawaii for the same reason but easier access, and New York around Thanksgiving. I am a Christmas tragic and New York at that time of year is Christmas central for the planet – the decorations are amazing and everyone is in a happy place.
What’s your favourite go-to recipe?
Sadly I am not the best cook, so outside of the BBQ and my woodfire pizza oven, that’s about it. Thank god my wife is an amazing cook and I have always said if I ever get to choose my last meal on earth, it would be her beef stroganoff.