Winners of SA Food and Beverage Industry Awards announced

Businesses producing premium food and beverages that have become synonymous with South Australia’s international reputation were among the winners announced at the 2020 South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards Gala Dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre tonight.

Winners included quiet achievers such as Dinko Tuna Farmers and Lifestyle Bakery, and consumer favourites Alexandrina Cheese Company and Robern Menz.

The 2020 inductee into the Awards Hall of Fame is Mitolo Family Farms, who specialise in combining traditional farming techniques with the very latest technology, and have been supplying quality produce to Australian families for almost half a century.

This year’s Leader Award was presented to Michael Horrocks of Lifestyle Bakery in recognition of his innovative leadership in developing the gluten free bakery sector, while the Next Generation Award, created to recognise an up and coming industry professional, was awarded to Kieran Donoghue of Safcol Australia.

The Emerging Business Award went to Never Never Distilling Co, makers of Australia’s very first Grenache gin, while Golden North’s Simply Indulge range of ice cream and Goolwa PipiCo’s Whole Clam Chowder won New Product Awards this year.

“When we launched the 2020 South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards, we already knew this year’s theme of Sharing our Stories was very appropriate,” says Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer.

“As everyone has been saying all year, none of us expected what 2020 has served to us, so it has been especially inspiring to learn the stories behind the winning businesses in this year’s awards,” Ms Sayer said.

“The challenges of 2020 aren’t the first obstacles many of our winners have overcome, but in this new COVID-normal world, the grit and resilience of an industry that is so important to South Australia’s economic wellbeing is being celebrated tonight.”

Interest in the awards program and in South Australian products has continued to grow this year, with a 15% increase in entries and over 11,000 consumers voting for their favourite business for the Consumer Award.

“The South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards program has showcased innovation and excellence in our industry for more than 20 years. These are the businesses that have helped drive growth for the sector, created brands known across Australia and internationally, and helped build our state’s reputation for premium products across the globe,” said Ms Sayer.

“One of the key benefits of this awards program is that winners and finalists can use this recognition as evidence of excellence for new customers and in new markets,” she said.

The Premier of South Australia, the Hon Steven Marshall MP said he is proud to present the winners of the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards.  

“Congratulations to the food and beverage industry whose hard work and innovation is recognised through these awards,” the Premier said.

“The sector has grown in 2020, even through the difficult year that we have endured. The sector is characterised by excellence in food and beverage production, manufacturing and marketing to ensure that South Australian products are rewarded by more than their fair share of the retail and food service market,” he said

2020 Winners

Hall of Fame, sponsored by San Remo
2020 Inductee: Mitolo Family Farms

Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Visy
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Goolwa PipiCo
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Sundrop Farms

Emerging Business Award, sponsored by Department for Trade and Investment
Winner – Never Never Distilling Co

Export Award, sponsored by Department for Trade and Investment
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Dinko Tuna Farmers
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Yumbah Aquaculture

Innovation in Business Award, sponsored by Department for Trade and Investment
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Dinko Tuna Farmers
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Team Unico

Innovation in Food or Beverage Award, sponsored by Food Processing Equipment
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: All The Things
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Lifestyle Bakery

New Product Award, sponsored by Foodland Supermarkets
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Goolwa PipiCo (Whole Clam Chowder)
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Golden North Ice Cream (Simply Indulge range)

Primary Producer Award, sponsored by Thomas Foods International
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: feather&PECK – pastured eggs
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Fleurieu Milk Company

Sustainability Award, sponsored by Peats Soils & Garden Supplies
Winner – Sundrop Farms

Leader Award, sponsored by Bickford’s Group
Winner -Michael Horrocks, Lifestyle Bakery

Next Generation Award, sponsored by Macro Group Australia
Winner – Kieran Donoghue, Safcol Australia

Consumer Award, sponsored by Statewide Super
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Alexandrina Cheese Company
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Robern Menz

Australian wine company growing export sales

While many areas of Australia’s economy are struggling under the weight of COVID, one local business is pushing forward with export growth across Europe and Canada.
Headquartered in McLaren Vale, Leconfield Wines is Australia’s oldest family-owned winemaking business. Owned by Dr Richard Hamilton and his wife, Jette, Hamilton is a fifth generation descendant of Richard Hamilton 1st who planted South Australia’s first wine producing vineyards in 1837. Leconfield Wines takes in Leconfield Wines in Coonawarra and Richard Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale. Its brands include Leconfield, Richard Hamilton Wines and Syn Sparkling Wines.
Leconfield has a history of producing top-quality, award-winning wines. Its wines are sold across Australia, overseas and also served aboard Jetstar business class and on Great Southern Rail trains including The Ghan, Indian Pacific, Great Southern and The Overland.
“COVID has been challenging for us. As winemakers that sell our products direct to consumers through our membership and into restaurants and other hospitality outlets across the country, sales have been hit through the closure of venues.  The latest lock down in Victoria is particularly challenging,” Hamilton said.
“We have also experienced mixed results overseas with some markets including China reducing spend.
“However in the face of this, we have also risen to the challenge. We have restructured to focus on building collaborative partnerships and foster growth in other overseas markets, and these strategies are already starting to yield great results.
“Damian White has been appointed to the newly created role of Sales and Marketing Director.  He is firmly focused on expansion of our international market, alongside our valued domestic and online platform partners.  Christine Says has been appointed to the role of CFO to help manage the complexities of our burgeoning overseas markets to ensure strong growth and firm cost control.
“The recent decision by Canada to remove tariffs on the import of Australian wines has also opened up new opportunities for us too.”
Leconfield has been approved for distribution and sale in three Canadian provinces:  Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.
“We are extremely excited about this and are looking to augment our presence to other provinces as well,” Hamilton added.
“In addition to Canada, we have secured new opportunities in Finland and Belgium. In Belgium, we have partnered with Belgian food retailer, Delhaize, to supply a private label Coonawarra Shiraz under the name of Dalebrook Farm. We are already in talks regarding line extensions. This opportunity and various other emerging ones are really proving very positive for us moving forward.
“Our senior winemaker, Paul Gordon is doing an excellent job of creating new and exciting wines from our vineyards. His ability to craft, blend and perfect is delivering superb results for us and really bolstering our ability to continually impress the market with wonderful wines.
“Kate Mooney, our marketing and events manager, who has been with us for nearly seven years, is hard at work refreshing and developing our labels and packaging to ensure we stand out on shelves, catalogues and online sites.
“Despite the challenges we are facing here at home, we are determined to achieve growth. We’ve been through droughts, the Spanish Flu, world wards, the great depression, recessions, the GFC and now COVID.  You could say ‘we are battle hardened’ and we are not about to let a virus dampen our prospects. We are all in this together, and certainly at Leconfield Wines, we are determined to get through to the other side.
“We are very lucky.  At the end of the day, we can sit back and relax with a good drop.  One of the benefits of winemaking.”

Oldest city vineyard defies urban squeeze to produce top drop

A city-based winery in South Australia has renewed its agreement to produce wine from the world’s oldest commercial urban vineyard.

Planted in 1907, the 1-hectare Marion Vineyard is surrounded by housing and a public swimming pool in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, a city of 1.4 million people.

But its grapes are not feeling the squeeze of city living with the past four vintages of the Patritti Marion Vineyard Grenache Shiraz awarded 96 of a possible 100 points by Australia’s leading wine critic James Halliday.

Established in 1926, Patritti Wines is the last remaining family-owned suburban winery in Adelaide. It is about 4km south of the council-owned Marion Vineyard, which it has managed since 2006.

The vineyard produces around 3000 bottles of the grenache shiraz blend each year. About 1000 litres of fortified wine has also been produced from fruit grown on the block each year since 2006 but this is unlikely to be released until it has been aged for 15 years and reaches ‘rare’ status.

“We’ve been very fortunate to work with a council that’s committed keeping the site and understanding its heritage value but it’s a labour of love,” says Patritti’s managing director Ines Patritti.

“We’re delighted to be part of its journey and it’s also lovely to see how the community has come on board with it – they are very much the vineyard protectors and they let us know when people are in there for any reason.

Since managing the vineyard, Patritti’s winemakers, James Mungall and Ben Heide have passionately worked with projects manager Matthew Mungall to reinvigorate old grenache and shiraz vines, improving the quality of fruit they produce.

The Marion Vineyard is one of only a few commercial urban vineyards left in the world and is claimed to be the oldest as South Australia was one of the few wine producing areas not to be affected by the global phylloxera outbreak that ravaged vineyards around the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Patritti recently won the tender to manage the vineyard for another five years.

Under this latest agreement, viticulturists from its two McLaren Vale vineyards will also take on the management of two other local vineyards on land owned by the City of Marion. The first is about 0.6ha (1.5 acres) behind the Oaklands Wetland and is planted with bush vine Muscat grapes while the second vineyard is in an area known as Laffer’s Triangle and contains about 0.4ha (1 acre) of Pedro Ximenez and Doradillo vines.

Marion Council has committed to connecting each of the vineyard sites to irrigation, ensuring the longevity of the vines and their continued productivity during low rainfall seasons. Patritti will perform a significant rejuvenation project at each site, reinvigorating underperforming vines, planting cutting material to replace dead vines and improve the aesthetic appearance of the vineyards.

Each vineyard will remain open to the public, with the fruit for Patritti’s exclusive use.

Ms Patritti says the goal is to produce a single vineyard product from each of the vineyards when volumes and quality allow.

It’s a passion – I’m very keen on the history of the area and a lot of young people don’t realise how much the area has changed.

“When I was growing up this area was dairy farms, vineyards and almond orchards.

“People ask ‘why would you build a winery here?’ because they don’t understand that when we first started the area was surrounded by vineyards.”

The Marion area is about 12km south of the centre of Adelaide and 10km north of Reynella, where John Reynell produced one of Australia’s first wine vintages in 1842.

Many of the vineyards in the Marion area originally produced table grapes. However, much of the wine producing blocks, including the Marion Vineyard, were owned by Frank Hamilton as part of the early vine planting’s of the then FE Hamilton & Sons Winery & Distillery.

The Hamilton family sold their vineyards in the area from the 1950s through to the 1970s to make way for suburban sprawl.

Descendants of Frank Hamilton are still involved in the South Australian wine industry including Richard Hamilton of Leconfield Wines, which managed the Marion Vineyard for the City of Marion from the early 1990s until 2005.

According to the Organisation of Vine and Wine, Australia was the world’s fifth largest wine-producing nation in 2016 behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States.

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s total annual production and about 75 per cent of its premium wine.

Vinegar project helps Aussie farmer out of a fig jam

A Kangaroo Island farmer with more fresh figs than he can deal with is preparing for the commercial launch of Australia’s first genuine fig vinegar.

Dan Pattingale is on track to pick almost 15 tonnes of figs from about 300 trees in his Stokes Bay orchard this season – double the 7 tonnes harvested from the seven-year-old trees last year.

He is using at least five tonnes of the excess figs to make fig wine before turning it into fig wine vinegar, which he says will be an Australian and possibly a world first.

Pattingale said there were a few other fig vinegars on the market but they were grape vinegars infused with figs.

“But what I’m doing is making wine from the figs and then making vinegar from that so it’s going to be the genuine article rather than just an infusion,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say it reminds me of figs but it’s certainly a very fruity vinegar with a nice pale pink colour. It’s expensive to make it because the fruit is all hand harvested so it’s going to be a special vinegar for salads and dressings mainly.

“It’s going to be a gourmet product and I’ll have to aim it at that market but I’m the only one making it in Australia – possibly the world – so I think there are enough people out there who want to try it at least so I’m pretty confident.”

Pattingale and wife Sue started out as olive growers on Kangaroo Island in the mid-1990s but switched the focus of their business to figs about five years ago. The Figgery, now sells its preserved Sticky Figs and Sticky Fig Syrup through 60 retailers on Kangaroo Island and across South Australia.

A $34,000 grant last year through the South Australian Government’s Advanced Food Manufacturing Grants Program allowed Pattingale to enlist the help of researchers from the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus to delve into the science of fig wine and vinegar making.

The vinegar project has coincided with a bumper 2019 fig harvest that began in late February and is expected to continue until mid May.

“It’s about a 100 per cent increase on last year and we were totally unprepared for it so it’s been a bit frantic,” Pattingale said.

“We’ve picked about 11 tonne now and we’ve still got a month to go.

“I’ll probably do about five tonne in sticky figs and the rest of it is going into the vinegar project.”

The cooking, drying and packing of the Sticky Figs and its bi-product Sticky Fig Syrup is all done on the farm, which still produces a small amount of olive oil.

Some of his olive processing equipment is also being used to press crush the figs during the winemaking process.

Pattingale only has the capacity to cook 150kg of fresh figs a day, causing a massive overrun during peak picking times when up to 600kg of fruit is harvested in a single day.

“I’ve bought a walk-in freezer which I’ve got 2.5 tonne in and I can’t fit any more figs in so I’ve had to start making the wine using the freshly picked figs,” he said.

“The wine I’m making now is quite a lot better than the early samples but the vinegar is the goal, there’s no doubt about that.

“We’re at the point where we know what we’re doing but we’ve just used the last few trials to iron it out a bit.

“Once the rush is over then we can start converting the wine into vinegar and I’m expecting to start making commercial vinegar in the next month.”

That process will involve building a bioreactor on the farm to convert the wine into vinegar. The conversion is done by introducing acetic acid bacteria and oxygen to the wine. The bacteria will consume the ethanol and convert it into acetic acid.

Pattingale said his fig wine had an alcohol volume of about 10 per cent and estimated he would end up with about 5000-litres of vinegar this year.

“It won’t take long to produce the vinegar so really it’s just a matter of packaging it and getting it out there and I think I‘ll be able to introduce it into all of my current outlets without any trouble,” he said.

“At this stage I still don’t have a product – I’ve got the wine so I’ve made a start – but until we set up the bioreactor and produce the vinegar I’m still guessing a bit so as far as final volumes go we just don’t really know yet.”

The vinegar is likely to be sold in 250ml bottles.

The Pattingales are aiming to launch their vinegar at the Kangaroo Island stall in the Adelaide Central Market in July and expect it to have national distribution.

The massive over supply of figs at the moment has forced the winemaking part of the operation into full swing. Pattingale said making the wine was a fairly simple process of crushing the fruit, adding the wine yeast and allowing it to ferment for three or four days before pressing out the wine.

“The wine I’m producing actually tastes better than the initial small sample of wine I tasted from the University of Adelaide and it does have quite a warming effect so I have to make sure I don’t try too much of it.

“I might keep a few bottles of the wine back for myself but at this stage I still think I’m better off to produce vinegar.”

Kangaroo Island is about 150km southwest of Adelaide, the South Australian capital, and is Australia’s third biggest offshore island behind Tasmania and Melville Island.

It has long been regarded as one of the world’s most pristine natural environments and is also known for its premium food and abundant wildlife.

The fig trees at the Stokes Bay orchard are all sourced from a 140-year-old tree still growing strongly at Snelling Beach about 15km west along Kangaroo Island’s North Coast Road.

Pattingale said the island’s north coast had proven an ideal place to grow figs.

“It’s definitely the sunny side of the street and we’re close to the coast.

“We’re right at the end of the Cygnet River Valley, which is relatively fertile soil for Kangaroo Island.

“We produce some great food over here but it’s not enough to say that you are from Kangaroo Island, you still have to produce a great product and that’s really important as that keeps the reputation up and it’s good for everyone then.”

AI diagnostics tool to help identify fruit fly gender

A South Australian company has developed an AI diagnostics tool that combines a microscope and smartphone to deliver agtech solutions.

Created by GoMicro, the microscope has previously been used in a kit to diagnose leishmaniasis in war-torn nations as well as in schools as a teaching tool. But it is now being tested as one part of an AI diagnostic package to identify anything that is visible but requires magnification.

The Adelaide-based company, which was spun out of the New Venture Institute at Flinders University , is looking to raise funds to commercialise the system, which has numerous potential applications across all industries.

Professor Rob Lewis, a company adviser and former head of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), said the GoMicro platform was an example of the successful integration of key technologies such as mobile, microscopy, machine learning and interpretive data analyses.

“This is the front end of a developing machine learning diagnostics system with multiple uses,” he said.

GoMicro CEO Sivam Krish said the company was in the midst of proving the concept by identifying Queensland fruit flies, a pest that threatens South Australia’s $1.25 billion horticulture industry.

Through SARDI, Krish distributed 200 microscopes to farmers in South Australia and used the images they sent back to create a database for the machine-learning engine to compare.

Krish said the key achievement was the ability for the device to create consistent laboratory conditions in the field by simply placing the specimen in the high-quality imaging microscope attachment.

The quality of the images, according to Krish, significantly reduced the number of images the AI engine needed to achieve 90 per cent accuracy in tests to determine if a fly was male or female, which enables scientists to track breeding.

“We created the entire database in a day because of the imaging device and training methods, so we can race through samples,” he said.

“The potential is for anything that is visible that requires some level of magnification, such as soil or sand in mining or leaf disease in agriculture.”

Krish said testing was underway on cloud and app interfaces as potential methods to share the field data with the AI engine and provide users with advice and solutions to their pest problems.

GoMicro uses advanced manufacturing technologies to prototype and manufacture the microscopes and the Tensorflow AI-engine developed by Google to make predictions.

“The platform is also an excellent teaching aid aimed at Australia’s future researchers, farmers and those wishing to find out more about the natural environment,” Professor Lewis said.

SA attracts NZ food research company

New Zealand-based science and innovation company Plant & Food Research is establishing a base at the largest agricultural research and teaching hub in the Southern Hemisphere.

The move into the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus in South Australia will give the company access to world-class facilities and drive research collaborations aimed at enhancing production, sustainability and value-adding in the horticulture, food and agriculture industries.

Plant & Food Research Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of the New Zealand science organisation Plant & Food Research, a NZ Government-owned Crown Research Institute.

The company has previously worked with the University of Adelaide on agricultural product development, almond orchard systems and harvest technologies.

It is also a partner in the new University of Adelaide-led Research Consortium – Agricultural Product Development, increasing the value of agricultural waste and turning it into new products; and has formal agreement in place to work with the University’s Adelaide Glycomics on complex carbohydrates and their potential in a range of sectors.

Established in Adelaide’s southern suburbs in 1924, The Waite is the largest concentration of agricultural research and teaching expertise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Plant & Food Research Australia will join 15 complementary organisations already at The Waite, including CSIRO, The Australian Wine Research Institute, Australian Grain Technologies and the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Like New Zealand, the South Australia relies heavily on agriculture, seafood and wine exports to drive its economy.

University of Adelaide’s Vice- Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said the campus had been at the heart of development of agriculture and food industries in South Australia for almost a century.

“Now with more than 250 academic staff at the university directly involved in agrifood and wine education and research we continue to lead research and innovation in these sectors,” Rathjen said.

Plant & Food Research group general manager, marketing and innovation Dr Gavin Ross said establishing a base at the campus would provide access to complementary facilities and skills within the university and other partner organisations, along with a well-trained pool of students at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

“Science is a complicated business, requiring large teams with a vast array of skills and infrastructure, and generating large data sets that require new and sophisticated procedures for analysis,” Ross said.

“Waite has a world-wide reputation for excellence and we look forward to building on past collaborations in working closely with industry, our clients and funding bodies.”

Plant & Food Research also has a collaboration with the University of Adelaide’s almond breeding program, and has major projects in other nut crops and in pollination across a range of crops.

The company has also bred several new plant varieties commercialised and grown in Australia, including Jazz, Envy and Rockit brand apples, and potatoes licensed to South Australian potato grower Mitolo.

South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said there was growing global demand for the safe, healthy food for which South Australia was well known.

“The increased research capabilities (of Plant & Food Research Australia) will further the state’s reputation as a world leader in agricultural and food research, and help take advantage of the tremendous potential for growth in the horticulture and agri-food sectors,”  Whetstone said.

South Australia invests $3 million in wine tourism

The South Australian government has launched a $3 million wine tourism campaign designed to attract international visitors to the state’s wine regions and boost the industry.

At Coriole Vineyards in McLaren Vale today, SA premier Steven Marshall, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway announced the beginning of the “International Visitation Campaigns” in the Barossa, Clare Valley, Limestone Coast, Adelaide Hills, the Riverland and McLaren Vale.

The state Government has committed $750,000 towards the initiative with funding contributions also from Wine Australia, through the Commonwealth Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package, local government, wine associations and communities.

Premier Marshall said the campaigns are a key pillar in attracting more visitation to South Australia’s wine regions and cellar doors.

“Today’s launch of the International Visitation Campaigns across six wine regions will build on the fantastic work this government is already doing to attract visitors to South Australia,” said Marshall.

“Our world-famous wine regions are an important part of the state’s economy and this campaign will allow them to continue to grow and create jobs for the state.”

Whetstone said the visitation campaigns are a collaborative effort to attract international visitors to South Australia’s wine regions, with a focus on China and the United States.

“Almost 40 per cent of international tourists visit a winery during their stay in South Australia and visitor expenditure supports growth in our regions,” said Whetstone.

“South Australia’s number one wine export destination is China and Hong Kong, with $813 million worth of wine exported in 2017-18, which shows where we can continue to add value to any activities targeted to these consumers.

“Six wine regions across South Australia are utilising the campaign in a number of innovative ways to attract international visitors, including a sommelier exchange, multi-lingual website, wine trail, virtual reality and online marketing.

“Our wine regions are continuing to be innovative and adapt to changing consumer needs targeting consumers looking for premium products.”

In the McLaren Vale, wine exports exceeded $100 million for the first time last year and McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association General Manager Jennifer Lynch said a targeted consumer marketing campaign will continue to build on that momentum.

“This investment and support will generate a notable step-change in our region’s continued international growth in key wine and tourism export markets, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors to enjoy what we have to offer in McLaren Vale,” said Lynch.

South Australia’s oyster industry on the mend

The South Australian oyster industry is a step closer to recovery, no longer needing government supplied juvenile oysters (spat) now and able to rely on spat produced by four commercial Eyre Peninsula suppliers.

Three years ago the SA oyster industry was affected by a severe spat supply shortage due to an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania. To reduce the risk of spreading to our oyster growing regions, there was a ban on South Australian growers importing Pacific Oyster spat from Tasmania, where more than 80 per cent of spat was previously sourced.

SA’s minister for primary industries and regional development Tim Whetstone praised the efforts of growers and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) in working together to address the challenges associated with the spat supply shortage.

“This is a significant milestone for the oyster farming industry. I praise the efforts of growers and PIRSA in working together to address the challenges associated with the spat supply shortage,” said Whetstone.

“Over the past three years, PIRSA’s research division SARDI has produced 106.5 million spat for the state’s Pacific Oyster aquaculture industry – 30 million, 34 million and 42.5 million in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19, respectively.

Whetstone said the state government had continued to work to reduce the feral oyster population and associated POMS viral load in Port River through targeted cull of oysters.

“There is still work to do and we remain committed to supporting our oyster growers and the many associated regional jobs to recover and to unlock new opportunities,” he said.

The  industry-SARDI research partnership will be built on through a breeding program to produce POMS resistant oysters which Whetstone would help “future-proof” the industry.

“SARDI has already produced 126 Pacific Oyster families under the Australian Seafood Industries selective breeding program and an additional 31 families are currently under development which will become the founding population of a selective breeding program,” Whetsone said.

SA Oyster Growers Association executive officer Trudy McGowan praised PIRSA for their efforts to boost spat production in the wake of the spat shortage faced by the industry.

“This assistance has been vital in ensuring the long-term viability of the South Australian oyster farming industry,” said McGowan.

“We are pleased to be in a position where we are confident in the strong production results we are seeing from our local hatcheries and optimistic that we are now on track to a healthy recovery.”

Riverland wine centre project begins to take shape

Australia’s largest wine region is a step closer to getting a dedicated wine and food centre to showcase its produce and drive tourism.

The Riverland is responsible for more than a quarter of Australia’s annual wine grape production. It is also a globally significant producer of citrus, stone fruits and almonds.

However, compared to other regions, the number of growers and volume of production has not yet translated into winery and cellar door equivalents. For example, fellow South Australian wine region the Barossa Valley has 738 grape growers compared with the Riverland’s 980 but it is home to 219 wineries and 88 cellar doors compared with just 55 wineries and 12 cellar doors in the Riverland.

The South Australian Government has pledged an initial $200,000 to develop a business case and detailed plans for a dedicated wine and food centre in the Riverland to help address the imbalance.

It released a discussion paper on the proposed centre last week and has given the local community and industry until the end of February to provide submissions.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, said community input would help shape the vision for the Wine and Food Centre.

“The Riverland is a vital food bowl for South Australia and this is a great opportunity to capitalise on the region’s growing reputation for producing premium beverages and food,” he said.

“Being able to showcase the region’s strengths in a dedicated centre would be a big drawcard for tourists to the region and provide greater economic support.”

The Riverland is about 240km northeast of the South Australian capital Adelaide and includes the River Murray towns of Berri, Renmark, Loxton, Barmera and Waikerie.

It is yet to be decided in which town the wine centre would be located or if it would be in a purpose built or refurbished facility.

The discussion paper says potential functions of the centre include providing an outlet for local wineries that do not have a cellar door, giving visitors an opportunity to experience a “taste of the Riverland” and showcasing the region’s premium wine, food, beer, spirits and cider.

However, it also says the centre should provide non-exclusive access and be commercially sustainable in the absence of ongoing government support.

“The discussion paper is quite broad as it is important the community provides extensive feedback which will ultimately drive the concept of the centre,” Minister Whetstone, who is also the Member for the Riverland seat of Chaffey, said.

According to Wine Australia, 447,410 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in the Riverland in the 2018 vintage, almost 30 per cent of the Australian harvest of 1.52 million tonnes. Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the main varieties grown

As well as being Australia’s largest growing region, the Riverland has been a pioneer of viticulture irrigation technology. Riverland Wine last year also partnered with the University of Adelaide, Wine Australia and the South Australian Government to create a Digital Vineyard Guidance System – a platform to filter data collected from a suite of remote sensors to improve vineyard efficiency.

“The Riverland has some wonderful success stories in the food and beverage industries and I envisage this centre will provide an opportunity to celebrate not only these stories, but the region as a whole,” Minister Whetstone said.

“This is an opportunity to continue to drive market growth and consumer awareness by enhancing the profile and reputation of the Riverland.

“I encourage all interested stakeholders, including wine, food and tourism businesses, industry associations, local government and community representatives and interested members of the public to get involved and provide feedback.”

South Australia is responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production and 75 per cent of the nation’s premium wine. It is also the home of world-renowned brands such as Penfolds, Hardys, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek.

Premium wine business course to be launched at Vinexpo

Two of the world’s great wine regions have come together to offer a high-end business course spanning two continents.

The 10-day Business of Wine course will give industry professionals access to some of the leading minds in Adelaide, Australia, and Bordeaux, France.

The course is the result of collaboration between renowned wine industry educators the University of Adelaide and the KEDGE Wine and Spirits Academy in Bordeaux.

The 10-day course was launched today, 29 May, at the Vinexpo in Hong Kong.

Course participants will spend five days in each region where they will be given exclusive access to vineyard tours and master classes led by chief winemakers. Alongside this, a tailored academic program will cover subjects such as research and development, global market insights, wine marketing, and consumer behaviour.

Bordeaux is probably the most famous wine region in the world while Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is within an hour’s drive of globally renowned regions Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills.

Adelaide joined Bordeaux as a Great Wine Capital in 2016.

“This unique and immersive program has been designed to allow people from all over the world to learn from the experiences of experts from two of the world’s greatest wine regions,” said University of Adelaide Wine Business Program Director Marni Ladd.

“Participants will learn from the best academics and business leaders not just about the science of wine, but also about future challenges in the wine business.”

The program is a direct result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Adelaide Business School and KEDGE Business School last year.

KEDGE Wine and Spirits Academy Director Professor Jacques-Olivier Pesme said France and Australia’s winemaking histories and experiences were different but very complimentary.

“As such, the experiences, practices, and technologies of these two regions provide different perspectives which are among the most successful ones in the world of wine,” he said.

“This polarity is what make this program so unique; a truly holistic learning experience.”

Australia is the world’s fifth largest wine producer and the second largest exporter to China, behind France. South Australia produces about 50 per cent of Australia’s wine and is home to leading brands including Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek, Hardys Wines and Wolf Blass.

Expressions of interest are being sought for the inaugural course, which will likely be held in Adelaide in November 2018 and Bordeaux in May 2019.

The new course was launched at a Vinexpo event attended by wine business leaders, industry bodies, dignitaries and the Great Wine Capitals Global Network community.

Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018, involving the participation of both the University of Adelaide and KEDGE, is the most influential wine and spirits trade fair in Asia. This year, the fair celebrates Australia as the ‘Country of Honour’.

Speaking at Vinexpo, Australian Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said the course would take advantage of existing and emerging market opportunities.

“Australian wine producers have never been so connected with the world as the global demand for our wine only grows,” Senator Ruston said.

Foodbank and Coles fight food shortages in South Australia

Coles and Foodbank have begun a new campaign to enable poor local families to be assisted by shoppers in South Australia.

Customers will have the opportunity to buy food donation cards with values of $5, $10 or $20 at Coles supermarkets, which will fund much needed food items for Foodbank’s warehouses and food hubs.

Providing more than four million meals annually through a large network of charity partners as well as school breakfast clubs in South Australia, Foodbank is the s largest food relief organisation in the country.

According to Foodbank SA Chief Executive Officer Greg Pattinson, more than 3,000 children miss out on Foodbank’s services every month.

“It’s not just traditionally vulnerable people they’ll be helping, but low income families doing it tough, single parents and the elderly, often within your own neighbourhood,” Pattinson said.

Coles has worked nationally with Foodbank for the past 14 years, donating food and groceries each year that have been used to provide a total of 20 million meals.

Coles State General Manager Neil Lake said Coles was proud to work with Foodbank in South Australia.

“Coles has been donating food and grocery items to Foodbank for more than a decade, to help families and individuals in need to put a meal on the table,” Lake said.

“Customers and team members are telling us that they want a simpler way to make a difference in the community, and give people the products they require to prepare healthy meals. The food donation card campaign will provide this and will make a major difference to the people in our community who need it most.”

The donation cards will be displayed on stands inside Coles stores and then scanned at the checkout and added to a customer’s grocery bill.

Planned SA ice cream factory won’t go ahead without Gov’t help

A planned ice cream, slated for Adelaide’s northern suburbs, will probably not be built unless the State Government provides the project $4 million of assistance.

Adelaide Now reports that well-known local hospitality identity Yazan Akeel and investors want to build a $20.5 million ice cream, gelato and sorbet factory in Elizabeth West. If built, the facility would employ over 100 workers.

However, the South Australian Government’s new Investment Attraction Agency (IAA) baulked at the asked for $6 million assistance for the project.  

Akeel told Adelaide Now that, instead, the IAA initially offered just $750,000, then later $850,000 in assistance.

He added that the project may now be canned or possibly moved to another state. The Victorian government, he said, has offered to cover half the cost of the project.

A spokesperson for the IAA told Adelaide Now, “The Investment Attraction Agency is continuing to assess business proposals and has committed funds to several projects, the details will be outlined in the New Year.

“An offer of financial assistance and case management has been made to Dolce on the basis the company provides a business plan and proof that contracts are in place.”

Is the appointment of senior management at foodland a sign of panic

South Australian supermarket group Foodland has made a series of senior appointments as it gears up to meet increasing competition in the state’s supermarket sector and boost its market share.

Foodland has engaged Christopher Villani as Marketing Manager and Sarah Armstrong as Merchandising Manager, also appointing Adelaide-based brand agency kwp to ramp up its advertising and marketing strategy

Foodland’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Con Sciacca, said the new appointments helped strengthen the group as it faced increased pressure from the established supermarket chains and the arrival of new competition from overseas.

Adding “We have a unique focus on South Australian growers and producers which differentiates us in the market place and has enabled us to build up a loyal customer base.

Laucke launches single origin flour from Kangaroo Island

For many years, Laucke Flour Mills Managing Director Mark Laucke has been crafting products derived from grains of known and traceable sources in the same way the wine industry produces wine from selected varieties and regions. 

“Unique food and wine is pivotal to Australia’s prosperity and central to its identity,” Mr Laucke said.

“Just like their wine industry counterparts — the best grain growers take pride in their high quality produce derived from clean air, water, soils and pristine seed stocks,” he said.

“In a world where food safety concerns are growing, South Australia is pioneering ‘paddock to plate’ traceability and leading food safety certification, ensuring absolute confidence and peace of mind for domestic and international consumers,” Mr Laucke said.

That opportunity has been realised this month with the launch of Laucke Flour Mills’ Single Origin Kangaroo Flours – ‘Classic’ and ‘Rising’— both milled from grain traceable to its Kangaroo Island origins.

“We are enormously proud to be partnering with the farmers of Kangaroo Island, who have grasped the opportunity and developed the sophistication to produce and supply us with grain that is identifiable, certified, tracked and documented,” Mr Laucke said.

“The iconic, pristine, and natural environment of Kangaroo Island is separated from the Australian mainland by 22 km and therefore offers a provenance unique to the world.

“The region’s soil and natural environment produces a range of unique flavoured local foods and beverages —such as wines, cheese, olives, and honey —and grains are no exception.

“Nowhere else in the world replicates the grains as grown from the purity of the water, air and soil of Kangaroo Island.” 

“We can track the provenance of the grain from the actual paddock—where that vintage of their grain was grown – all the way through to careful segregation and milling, where the unique characteristics of the wheat are retained within the flour,” Mr Laucke said.

Laucke Flour Mills Single Origin Kangaroo Flour –  ‘Classic’ and ‘Rising’ are both available in Woolworths, and selected independent grocery stores in the coming weeks.

Thomas Foods set to pack on the beef

South Australian meat processor, Thomas Foods International says it will boost its beef processing capacity by up to 25 per cent with a new beef boning facility.

Thomas Foods has an annual revenue in excess of $AUD1billion and is Australia’s largest family-owned meat-processing company.

It currently supplies a range of retail outlets including Coles, Woolworth’s, Costco and also Aldi.

According to the company, this $AUD25 million upgrade of its Murray Bridge abattoir will boost the company's beef processing capacity by a quarter and will see the creation of an additional 200 jobs.

“The new facility will use the latest technology for refrigeration, conveying, sortation, cryovac packing and hygiene,” Thomas Foods CEO David McKay said.

"It will be one of our company's biggest investments," he said.

Beca completes Lion’s West End Brewery Upgrade

Beca has finalised $26M of works at Lion’s West End Brewery in Adelaide. 

The project scope was to replace the existing West End brew house, which produced 150,000L of wort (pre-fermented beer) every 6 hours with a new plant that produced 50,000L every 2 hours. 

This allowed for the same total output, but achieved greater flexibility as more brands can be produced every day. Work was also carried out to move production from a manual process to a fully automated operation, where the role of operators and brewers is to sample and programme the recipes for the week. 

The successful delivery of this project on time and on budget was underpinned by the strong collaboration between Lion and Beca. 

“I was particularly impressed with Beca’s ability to support the Hyde Park project with experienced senior project management and process engineering resources in the unique and complex field of brewing,” said John Kearvell, Lion’s Group Capital Works Manager.

“We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Lion on another multi-disciplinary project and achieve a successful outcome. This marks the completion of the Hyde Park Project – a major change initiative impacting multiple sites and spanning several years from conception to completion,” said Derek Schaefer, Beca’s Client Relationship Manager for Lion in Australia. 

Along with delivering ahead of time and on budget, the project was completed with an exceptional health and safety result; its last 550 days free of any lost time or medically treated injuries.