In Focus
FRANCHISING | Staff Reporter, Australia

Learn more about Zambrero's plan to take on Australia's urban markets

The brand also talked about the obstacles it faces on its quest towards feeding the world.

QSR Media got a chance to talk with Dr. Sam Prince, owner and founder of Zambrero, to discuss the brand's Plate4Plate program and the challenges it faces on its mission to feed the needy.

Zambrero is a healthy quick-service restaurant franchise and humanitarian enterprise committed to tackling world hunger through its Plate 4 Plate initiative, serving modern Mexican food with burritos, tacos, nachos and quesadillas all made with fresh ingredients. Zambrero was founded in Braddon, Canberra in Australia in 2005 by Dr Sam Prince. Now, Zambrero has over 135 restaurants globally across Australia, New Zealand Thailand and Ireland. 

QSR Media: What's new at Zambrero?

Sam Prince: We have been focusing on expansion across Australia, and are currently opening one restaurant a week, which we will continue to do so until the end of the year.

Recently we launched the Hazillo Brownie – a dark chocolate and hazelnut brownie with a hint of guajillo chilli – as the newest addition to our growing retail line which contributes to our Plate 4 Plate initiative.

We have also just launched a dedicated website for our Plate 4 Plate initiative which supports our ability to grow our movement to end world hunger.

QSR Media: How is your Plate4Plate program going? Can you tell us more about it?

Sam Prince: Plate 4 Plate was established in 2005 as a measure to tackle world hunger. The simple concept of donating a highly nutritious meal to someone in the developing world for every burrito or bowl purchased has underlined its success, which has resulted in over 9.7 million meals donated to date.

Fundamental to our Plate 4 Plate initiative is the development and success of Zambrero's modern, healthy and fresh take on Mexican food that offers a unique and quick service style that fills a gap in the market.

Initially Plate 4 Plate focused on the developing world, working in tandem with key distribution partner Stop Hunger Now. Zambrero donates a rice and soy meal which is invigorated with 23 essential vitamins and Stop Hunger Now distributes the meal to those in developing countries who do not have access to adequate nutrition, primarily through school feeding programs.

Zambrero has now evolved Plate 4 Plate to also recognise that food insecurity in Australia has become a growing issue and we wanted to ensure we looked to our own backyard. In June 2016, Foodbank Australia released their hunger report, which revealed one in six Australians have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.

To tackle this hunger on home soil we introduced a retail line in 2015, which works on a similar premise to our original Plate 4 Plate initiative. For every retail product sold we donate a meal, through Foodbank, to underprivileged families in need in Australia.

We started with two retail products, the Forbidden Black Rice and muesli bars, and have recently launched the Hazillo Brownie, which will enable Zambrero to help even more people experience food insecurity in Australia.

A couple of weeks ago Zambrero donated their 10 millionth meal so we're now fast approaching 11 million as a milestone, yet another check point in our mission to beat world hunger.

QSR Media: What are the challenges in your mission?

Sam Prince: Whilst world hunger, according to official reports and research, is decreasing, it is an incredibly complex issue that goes far beyond supply and distribution. This is why the Plate 4 Plate initiative focuses on school feeding programs in developing countries. Poverty is one of the key factors contributing to world hunger, so ensuring children are well nourished and can focus on education is a key step in helping to reduce poverty and therefore hunger. When food is distributed at school, it also encourages families to ensure their children attend school and it helps relieve the burden of food scarcity.

The complex correlation between health, education and poverty will continue to be a challenge in the fight against world hunger as it requires a multidimensional global effort, but we are determined to play a key role in it.

From a business perspective, our commitment to ending world hunger is the engine of the company and fuels our expansion. Our ideals haven't just allowed us to expand, they have been instrumental in our ability to do so - they present an opportunity rather than a challenge. This is because our owners, team members and customers alike are attracted to our ideals.

As the goal we are working towards is no easy feat and relies on our customers, every day we challenge ourselves to provide the best quality food and experience so customers continue to buy bowls and burritos to support us in our mission. Being transparent, accountable and highly structured gives us the foundation to run a successful humanitarian business which is capable of beating world hunger.

QSR Media: Any big plans you have before the year ends?

Sam Prince: We will continue to focus on the growth of our franchise family, which will see the group reach over 150 restaurants by the end of the year. This goes beyond the Australian market, and recently we have experienced rapid expansion in New Zealand with ten restaurants opening in a space of 18 months, and there are no plans to slow down in this market. Future international expansion plans also include growing the South East Asia and Ireland as well expansion into a brand new market – watch this space.

We also held our annual volunteer meal packing day, to pack meals for distribution working with Stop Hunger Now, on the 21st October. It took place across five metro cities in Australia, and packed 353,376 meals.

As always we will continue to focus on serving modern, healthy and fresh Mexican food. We are always striving to evolve and respond to changing consumer demands especially in catering for those with dietary needs. We have a couple of new products on the horizon so stay tuned for more details on this.

QSR Media: What would you like to tell the market about the direction of your brand?

Sam Prince: For Zambrero the future means ending world hunger and inviting the world to join us in our quest, either as a happy and socially conscious customer, a franchise partner or a future employee, as we continue to expand rapidly.

We started off conquering the regional areas of Australia but have successfully moved into urban markets. Building on demand in metro areas such as Sydney and larger towns in New South Wales, as well as other states, the future will bring a greater balance of urban and regional expansion as our city restaurants pop up.

The Zambrero brand will continue to stay true to its heart and soul; fresh, innovative and healthy Mexican cuisine. We will continue to invest in high quality ingredients and listen to our customers to ensure we continue to evolve and offer exciting and healthy products. 

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