Company History

Chris and Paula Cromwell started Central Victorian Providores (CVP) in late 1997 based in Castlemaine, Central Victoria.central-victorian-providores

Their mission was to deliver quality, regional, organic and biodynamic produce and products to restaurants, deli’s and supermarkets throughout country Victoria and the Melbourne metro area.

Castlemaine is ideally suited as a base for CVP as it was in a very productive farming area of Central Victoria. This meant product could be sourced by CVP direct from the farm at the best price, and delivered straight to the foodservice or retail outlet within a working day with the best possible use by dates. Castlemaine is almost a suburb of Melbourne (thanks to the upgraded Calder freeway) and is just over an hours drive from the Melbourne CBD.

The catchment population of CVP’s market is about 450,000 country and nearly 4 million Melbourne people, most of whom need to eat every day.

Being a country town, Castlemaine had the benefit of lower overheads of a city business, and an extremely loyal and reliable workforce from which to draw.

Central Victorian Providores started by buying fresh organic and biodynamic fruit and vegetables from the farmers and selling it from the back of a refrigerated truck in all towns between Melbourne and Bendigo. In 1990’s, the organic movement was only just starting to get traction and the business grew too slowly to keep a growing Cromwell family out of the Salvo’s second hand clothes bins.

In 1999, Paula and Chris decided to broaden the market base by distributing value added organic foods like Gippsland and Jalna Organic Yoghurts, organic soy products, organic milk and organic goat and sheep cheeses, dips, organic bread, and organic ice cream. Most of these products were delivered to local IGA supermarkets and foodservice customers and the business increased in size and volume with the addition of a warehouse in 2000 and more trucks, cool rooms, freezer rooms and staff.

A computerized accounting system in 2000 was implemented to handle the then new GST, and also meant that a “just in time” model of food distribution was possible. This enabled CVP to grow a product list of some 10,000 lines from 150 suppliers (driven by the needs of the local country customers who were 1, 2 and 3 hat restaurants) without having to carry stock. It also meant that distribution of fresh bread and sushi with use by times of only 6 hours was possible.

Over the years, new local businesses have started up with exciting products such as Holy Goat cheeses, Istra Smallgoods, Hepburn Mineral Water, Harcourt Apple Juice and Ciders, Pacdon Park sausages and others. These were added to our long time list of near locals like Meredith dairy, Brookfarm mueslies and Mount Zero Olives. These suppliers gave CVP good volumes of regional product and allowed the rationalization of the product list to mainly regional product.

These days the product list is just over 3 thousand line items (mainly regional) and is managed and delivered with the efforts of about 20 CVP employees.