The Farmer Jo muesli and granola business began over a kitchen table discussion. Today it is influencing breakfasts all over Australia. Meet the founders, Sally and Scott Tulloch.
Meet the producers: Farmer Jo muesli and granola
In what must be the perfect beginning for a muesli business, the opening scene was a kitchen table in Sydney’s beachside suburbs. Farmer Jo founders Sally and Scott Tulloch were sharing a bottle of wine, and although breakfast time had long since passed a muesli opportunity was top of mind.
Scott, originally from Glasgow, was marketing small-batch quality coffee at the time, working closely with some of Australia’s top cafés. Sally was an interior designer whose family had a background in selling fruit and vegetables. The food industry was in their DNA.
“We had our first child and we were looking for something to do together – something we could do to grow our family,” Sally says. “Food made sense and we saw an opportunity in muesli. We just thought ‘Let’s give it a try’.”
The couple had always loved muesli, and had been making breakfast snacks, such as sticks of granola. But they couldn’t find anyone to manufacture them, so they thought they would go about building a business themselves.
With a belief that they could improve the commercial muesli sold in Australia – they felt that many brands were too bland – they set about creating “something we wanted to eat” and began baking oats, nuts and seeds in their kitchen at home, developing five flavours of muesli and granola. With a firm commitment to health and wellbeing – they use only wholefoods - their aim was to make healthy food tasty. “We were bored with eating muesli that didn’t taste good,” Sally says. “When we first started our muesli was probably too rich, but the whole point was you didn’t have to fill up your bowl and add milk, you’d have fruit and yoghurt and have a sprinkling of muesli on top. They are really quality ingredients so you only need a handful.”
Scott began selling their muesli into cafes, quickly gaining a place on some of Australia’s best café menus, growing the brand and positioning Farmer Jo as a premium product.
Today, a decade on, Farmer Jo makes about 10 tonnes of muesli and granola per week and employs 42 staff at its Byron Bay headquarters, many of whom are family members. Now the parents of four daughters, it’s been a tough slog for Sally and Scott at times but the driver was always to keep it in the family. “The first seven years were tough: 6-7 days a week, 16-hour days… there were days when Sally would be driving and delivering muesli with one baby in a pouch, one in the hand and bags of muesli in the other. It’s still a blur – they’ve definitely grown up in the business, that’s for sure,” says Scott.
Farmer Jo started supplying Coles in 2020 which gave further impetus to their growing business. “Working with Coles has allowed us the opportunity to influence the choice you have for breakfast,” Scott says. “And it’s enabled us to use better ingredients because our volumes have grown. Who said big business kills small business?”
Farmer Jo’s ingredients include pecans and macadamia nuts from Byron Bay, plus fruit and nuts from Adelaide, India and Sri Lanka. They choose to work with small farms where possible and are committed to direct relationships with these premium growers.
The business began with five flavours and now features 16 with a further three limited-edition flavours in the pipeline, including a gluten-free Davidson plum and macadamia granola.
Both Scott and Sally believe public awareness of health in food is growing. “I can only see that the health aisle will become two aisles, three aisles, four aisles, and other brands will adapt. Health doesn’t have to be expensive. The more the big guys get involved, the more accessibility it has to a wider population,” Scott says.
And how have Sally and Scott managed to combine work and family? “I feel boundaries have been good for us,” says Sally. “Scott is very good at sales and marketing, very much a people person and a big thinker. I am more detailed, product-focused, love getting into the food and the making. So we let each other take ownership of our own part of the business and that works. And then when we come home we’re there for family and kids and try not to talk about work too much.”