March 8, 2021
What we have been up to and what comes next
We wrote a blog almost one year ago with worry on our minds. No one knew what COVID would mean for our customers or our business. Cut to 12 months and a second lockdown later, Chaeban is in fact stronger than ever.
The ice cream club has far exceeded our expectations, as has our reach into retail across Manitoba. In both areas, we made a conscious choice to think long-term; to take this last year to really build what will help us survive and be sustainable in the future. We believe that people want to support local, and if we continue to improve upon these offerings, we can have a long-term, viable business that capitalizes on local to make quality products. We think the world needs more of this thinking and more action in this direction.
We also believe that we can’t sit back and rely on the air of “being local” to survive. We believe we need to make local a better alternative not just in people’s hearts, but also in convenience, value, taste, and every other way.
Here are the main things we have been up to make that happen:
Chaeban Artisan: Making Joseph’s Cheesy Dreams Come True
With the stability of Chaeban Ice Cream, finally, Joseph is able to live out his life-long dream of making cheese in his own facility. The results have been very tasty so far.
We are currently making soft, spreadable feta, firm feta, and Labneh, a rich, creamy Mediterranean-style cheese. We have all the equipment to make these varieties — from scratch — right in our own facility and the ability to sell them right away.
We also have Joseph, who is a master at cheese making.
We have recently achieved a Canadian Food Inspection Agency certification, which not only takes our food safety standards to an even higher level than we currently have, but more importantly, gives us the option to make more “fancy” kinds of cheese in the future.
Check out where you can grab a container of cheese, or add it to your next ice cream club order.
From March 2020 to January 2021, we accepted back 48% of our ice cream club jars for inspection, sanitization, and re-use. Previously we had been getting back 10-15% of the jars we had been putting out through retail, so this is a tremendous improvement on our “be environmentally friendly” core value! The club allows us to take ownership of our packaging and be responsible from beginning to end.
We also take back the lids, and although we can’t re-use them for sanitary reasons, we can take them directly to a scrap metal dealer instead of mixing them into multi-material recycling. We earned a whopping $48.30 cents on our returned lids in the same time period, which we have donated to the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. Watch our video about this.
Developing our own Software
Our online customers have been telling us they want more convenient ways to change up their orders, schedule their deliveries, and more. After trying nearly every app we could find, we reached the limits of what we could do without creating our own software.
Much like Joseph is now working on cheese from scratch, we have let Sehajdeep, Systems and Software Super Geek, lose to write our own custom software to enhance the online experience.
The first project is an easy-to-use flavour selection page that will allow club members to change their order right up to the day before we deliver it, including all the feature flavours we have in stock at the time. It also will help us manage stock better — when there are three pints of Red Velvet left, the system will know and it will let our club customers select them until the last one is gone.
Watch for more new, convenient features in the coming months.
Okay, confession time. We couldn’t open our store for sit-in service even if we wanted to. To support our increased production for grocery stores, home deliveries, and now cheese production, we are using our sit-in area as a warehouse and staging area. So we have rented the unit next to us and will be moving much of our production there. The center piece of this is a 2,000-gallon milk storage tank. This is going to save our backs as we are currently lugging 90-liter milk jugs in and out of the cooler. We may stop for ice cream to celebrate the day that tank gets approved!
If You’ve Gotten This Far…
You’ve got to the most exciting announcement. On a Saturday in March, which one is yet to be determined, we will be opening our store for the first time since last year. While it will be take out only, for now, customers will be able to purchase our pints, the smaller Booza Bites, and all our cheeses, along with getting a scoop or two of their favourite ice cream!
We will expand our offerings as restrictions change and when our new front of house team gets up to speed.
Thank you so much for your support and interest in our local business.
Zainab, Joseph, and Darryl