Burien’s Own Australian Pie Company Expanding

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Australian Pie CompanyBurien’s own Australian Pie Company (located at 425 SW 152nd in downtown Burien, across from the new Town Square construction), is now selling its own Aussie Bakery brand puff pastry at Central Market, Haggen, QFC, Thriftway and Top Foods stores in Snohomish County.

PCC Natural Markets and Whole Foods also are carrying the products in their Puget Sound area locations.

That’s all happened this past year, as the 9-year-old business has expanded its sales beyond its own storefront and begun competing against much larger companies on supermarket shelves.

“We are keeping one step ahead of everybody else. As a small business, that’s the only way to compete in the big arena,” said Glen Rosser, who’s heading business development for the Australian Pie Co.

A native of Australia who now lives in Mountlake Terrace, Rosser joined the company in 2006 after tasting its products.

“I walked in there, said I believed his product was impeccable and had real potential. I felt it was an injustice such a great product wasn’t more available,” said Rosser, 32.

Angus Wood, 40 and also hailing from Australia, began baking his meat pies out of frustration at not finding a suitable pie after he moved to the United States. Soon, other Australian expatriates began asking for the pies he baked in his house. By 1998, he launched his Burien bakery, selling products there and then through mail order.Hmmm...pies...

The places where the bakery has ended up sending its products show their wide appeal, Rosser said. They’ve gone everywhere, from Hollywood film sets to transplanted Australians living in Wyoming.

While Wood initially set out to replicate a taste of home, he ended up creating a relatively health-conscious product as well. The company’s puff pastry, for example, is made of wheat flour and contains no trans fat, no cholesterol and no artificial additives. Many of its products, except for the meat pies, are vegan friendly.

It also happens to taste good enough to develop loyal fans. Geoff Wall of Piccadilly Circus, a British restaurant and pub in Snohomish, drops by the Burien bakery whenever he’s in that area.

“It’s excellent. I’ve eaten all of his stuff,” Wall said.

Australian Pie CompanyThat reputation for tastiness and quality ingredients has been a selling point as Rosser has tried to convince stores to give the Aussie Bakery products a shot. Up until now, most stores have carried one nationally produced brand of frozen puff pastry. Central Market’s Poulsbo-based parent was one of the first to give the company shelf space.

“They really believed in us, they really gave us our big shot,” Rosser said.

Other stores have followed their lead, including Haggen and Top Foods, QFC, Whole Foods and PCC Natural Markets. Whole Foods also is giving Aussie Bakery’s fruit pies a place at its Northwest stores.

But fighting for shelf space in the first place isn’t even half the battle.

“Getting in the stores is not difficult if you have a good product with good packaging,” Rosser said. “They key is staying in the stores.”

So far, sales at most stores of Aussie Bakery’s frozen pastry have been good, meriting continued shelf space. Wood estimates the bakery’s sales over the past year have increased 30 percent to 40 percent.

“It’s fantastic to see the products out there,” he said. “It’s exciting to make an impact on the food world.”

The company is now talking to other supermarket chains and looking at distributing to stores in Oregon and California as well.

Additionally, Aussie Bakery pies can be found in cafes around Microsoft’s campus and are being sold on AmazonFresh, the online retailer’s grocery service.Hmmm...more pies.

So far, ramping up production to meet the greater demand from wider distribution hasn’t been a problem. Some customized machinery and an efficient production team of four people have been enough so far, Wood and Rosser said.

Rosser, who worked at the Shanghai Commercial School in Asia before moving to be near his wife’s parents in Snohomish County, said he’s happy to see the company’s products getting recognition and respect on store shelves.

And with just one of the Aussie Bakery products out in stores right now, there seems to be plenty of room to grow.

“I think we’ve only scratched the surface,” Wood said.

Stop into The Australian Pie Company soon and let ’em know the B-Town Blog sent ya!


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