RUPANYUP resident Jenny Matthews has been campaigning to put the town 'on the map', with her most recent endeavor bringing the back roads of Rupanyup to the bustling streets of Hong Kong
Born and bred in Rupanyup, Ms Matthews said she was "the girl who was kicked off the farm and told to get a job in the city, while my brother stayed back on the farm".
During her time in Melbourne, her brother founded a grain cleaning company which eventually became The Wimmera Grain Store.
Ms Matthews said she started working on the domestic market for the company after a conversation with her brother 10 years ago.
"It was about 10 years ago when I was complaining about the cost of child care, when my brother rubbed his hands in glee and said 'do I have an opportunity for'," she said.
"He taught me how to trade, so I started supplying chickpeas and lentils by the metric tonne, in 25kg bags to food manufacturers, cafes and restaurants in Melbourne.
"It was from that then I started to get interested in the added value side of what goes on."
After Ms Matthews returned to Rupanyup she set to work on increasing the towns standing, both in Australia and internationally.
"Because we sell our produce as a commodity, we just aren't known as an artisan area at this point, but that is something I would like to change. I am looking for people I can work with to change that," she said.
Rather than selling their produce wholesale, Ms Matthews experimented with using their chickpeas and lentils for flour, and eventually snack foods.
Ms Matthews said she had an idea to market the town internationally.
"It started with a conversation with my brother about 18 months ago. All along I have wanted to promote Rupanyup, regional produce, and regional Australia," she said.
"Philosophically, if Paul Hogan can sell outback Australia to America, why cant we promote Rupanyup and regional Victoria to places in Asia."
Her brother introduced her to a contact in Hong Kong to who she tabled their products, and Rupanyup itself.
Ms Matthews said she was surprised when there was interest from Hong Kong, and in November 2020 the first order of The Wimmera Grain Store's products were shipped off.
The Wimmera Grain Store has enjoyed success since its first foray into Hong Kong. Ms Matthews said their sour cream chickpea puffs are a particular favorite.
"They love innovation and the love Australian produce. They really love the high standards we have for cleaning, packing, and presenting our food," she said.
Now with their products stocked on Hong Kong shelves, Ms Matthews has been looking to other way of advocating for Rupanyup.
"I am advocate for putting Rupanyup on the map. I'm born and bred Rup' and I am related to half of Rup'," she said.
"I just love, absolutely love it. I think Rup' has such a can do attitude. It's delightful to be involved with them again. Promoting the town is not very hard, it has got a lot to offer."
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