30 years of paddock to pallet at the SA Produce Market

The champion of South Australia’s horticultural sector – the South Australian Produce Market (SAPM) – is celebrating 30 years in the field.

It’s a time over which the state’s only wholesale market has achieved a self-sufficient energy supply and a continued reputation for supporting local growers who attribute much of their livelihoods to the fruit and veg hub.

SAPM trades 250,000 tonnes of fresh produce between 45 wholesalers, 60 growers and hundreds of retail operators each year, worth an estimated wholesale value of $550 million.

Although the SAPM is celebrating its 30th anniversary in northern Adelaide this month, its extended history dates back to the days of the East End Market on East Terrace in Adelaide’s CBD.

The East End Market operated for more than a century until its closure in 1988.

SAPM CEO Angelo Demasi says three decades of innovation, growth and business philosophies have led to the special milestone for the market’s Pooraka home.

The SA Produce Market is celebrating 30 years of supporting the state’s food and agricultural industry.

“We recognise how important the grower, wholesaler and retailer supply chain are to the public and the efforts that they go to, to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to the public,” he says.

“We are undertaking many projects to ensure the sustainability of the market, and the businesses that rely on it for many more years to come.”

Many of the market’s growers and wholesalers are long standing or multi-generational fruit and vegetable growers including Mercurio Bros, Parker and Sons, and Ceravolo Orchards.

The market is renowned for its early morning activity, with growers rising in the wee hours to transport their goods from farm to pallet. Buyers include IGA, Foodland, independent retailers and greengrocers.

The SAPM has continued to transition over the past 12 months, with an expansion project set to open the market to the general public for the first time.

“The development will include a retail component which will include a factory or more like a farm-gate outlet for consumers to purchase fresh food and affordable produce direct from market,” Angelo says.

The food precinct expansion will also allow food processors an opportunity to take their business “to the next level” with shared infrastructure including loading docks, and education and cooking areas.

The market is also home to the state’s first onsite energy microgrid, comprising a 4.2MWh lithium-ion battery, a 2.5MW solar PV system comprising 8500 solar panels, and a 2.5MW onsite generator.

It will supply the site’s entire energy demand and also export power to the National Electricity Market.

A forklift whizzing by with pallets of fresh fruit or veggies is not an uncommon sight at the market. Photo by SA Mushrooms.

“This will enable all of our growers and wholesalers to enjoy cheap reliable power to ensure they continue to be cost competitive both on a local, national and international level,” Angelo says.

The market holds the interests of the horticultural industry at heart, often playing an advocacy role in tough times such as major flood events that affect growers.

In more recent times, SAPM has backed the strawberry industry by installing a metal detector to help boost consumer confidence following the national strawberry needle crisis.

In September 2018 a number of needles were found deliberately planted inside strawberries sold across the country.

SA is on the cusp of its strawberry season which typically runs between October and May.

The metal detector – supported by $50,000 from the State Government – will be communal, so it can be used by all local strawberry growers as well as other horticulture-related commodities.

The state produced about 6000 tonnes of strawberries with a farmgate value of $42 million in 2016/17.

Angelo admits the running of the market isn’t without its challenges, but SA’s food industry is ramping up.

“The optimism is good and we have started to see a surge in exports,” he adds.

Header photo is SA Produce Market’s Greg Pattinson, left, and Angelo Demasi.

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]


Ugly veggies live it up with perfect puree and tasty vodka

Blind tastings to find the perfect potato vodka are revealing left over starch from making potato crisps is the choice ingredient for a top drop.

In fact, the starch cake sourced from PepsiCo’s Adelaide crisp factory is proving so good that Adelaide Hills Distillery is now working towards launching its unique new vodka in January.

“We’re creating a vodka with flavour that’s mindfully sourced and sustainably made,” Potatoes South Australia CEO Robbie Davis says.

It was Ms Davis’s peak industry body that began work on creating the unusual new vodka with Adelaide Hills Distillery and the University of Adelaide last year.

They won a $30,000 grant from the former Labor State Government with the idea of finding new ways to use potato waste, and soon began trials using potato peel, the starch cake left over after making crisps and potato water.

Potatoes SA CEO Robbie Davis. Photo: PIRSA.

“This is a vodka that tells a story,” Robbie says.

“This has a taste to it, it’s slightly earthy, and that’s what is unique; it has some flavour.”

The boutique spirit is a successful research and development project undertaken by the forward-thinking industry body that represents the state’s largest horticulture industry.

SA produces 80% of the nation’s fresh washed potatoes and Robbie is leading the charge to find fresh ways to slash the corresponding waste.

In 2016, she travelled to Europe to see how different countries were trying to reduce pre-farm gate food waste after being named the state’s Rural Woman of the Year.

Now, she is also a director on the new $133 million Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre based at Adelaide’s Waite Institute that is targeting food waste and has 57 participants around Australia and overseas.

Who knew the humble potato could be so versatile!

She is also committed to another Potatoes SA project well underway with the university – this one focusing on scientifically creating a long-lasting, high-quality puree that ensures more “ugly potatoes” meet a more useful end.

At the moment, shoppers demanding perfect potatoes in supermarkets are forcing primary producers to bin up to 40% of produce.

This project takes on the ugly ducklings and purees them, skin and all.

“What we’ve perfected is a puree which is pure potato and some water with no added colour or preservatives and it will last a year if it’s chilled and has a shelf life of six months,” Robbie says.

“(Famed cook) Maggie Beer has bought the product and is very happy with it and has been using it in some of her products through the farm shop in the Barossa Valley.”

It has enormous export potential along with use in nursing homes and hospitals or in the baby or toddler food market.

Robbie says the university has been using it to make gnocchi, sorbet and meat pies as well as a gluten-free ingredient in bread and crackers.

A new company established by the association called Puree Australia is currently working out the best way to get the product to market so the industry can use more of the estimated 80,000 tonnes of potatoes that don’t make it into supermarkets each year.

Ugly potatoes are made into puree that’s used to make sorbet, gnocchi and meat pies.

It’s also triggered another collaborative research project with the University of Adelaide to develop nutrient dense foods for ageing South Australians.

Together with Test Kitchen SA, dietician Joyce Gibson, Obela Fresh Dips and Spreads and Thomas Farms Kitchen, the goal is to use the puree to develop a range of 10 nutrient-enriched, sophisticated and fun lifestyle-driven food products for ageing South Australians.

They include easy-to-swallow sauces, gravies, dips, spreads, desserts and smoothies with Robbie saying the work would look at ensuring older people can eat foods that satisfy their increasing need for protein.

“We want to see food in nursing homes, hospitals and residential villages that is beautiful, tastes yummy, has health claims and that isn’t stodge,” Robbie says.

She passionately believes SA’s economic future is tied to this kind of work, in producing food sustainably, innovatively and competitively.

That’s partly why the association is a Friend of Champions 12.3, a United Nations General Assembly working to halve waste by 2030 and reduce food loss along the value chain.

This month, those working to make that happen come together to celebrate all that is potato at the industry’s annual dinner at the National Wine Centre.

Among them will be some of the industry’s heavy hitters, The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh-Parilla Premium and Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce, with one of the key elements of the night – the auction of new season baby potatoes.

Last year, the 10kg lot sold for $10,250 with proceeds going to the Little Heroes Association, and Robbie hopes for an even larger bid this year.

“We’re always looking for more,” she adds.

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

Sunday trading, upgrades on the cards for Adelaide Central Market

The Adelaide Central Market has $22m worth of infrastructure upgrades in the pipeline over the next decade, as the 149-year-old food hub aims to retain its historic charm while preparing for the modern age.

The market, which is one of the largest undercover markets in the southern hemisphere, is gearing up for an overhaul which includes new air-conditioning, a renewal of the Gouger Street frontage, and stage two of a new waste and recycling centre.

The upgrades are part of the Adelaide Central Market Authority (ACMA’s) four-year Strategic Plan, which sets out a vision to make the city institution the best food and produce market in the world.

As infrastructure upgrades unfold at the Central Market, Sunday trading is also being investigated. Photo by Nikki Firth, Take in Outside.

The Strategic Plan was formed through a number of initiatives raised by market traders during a six-month consultation process – the most extensive ever undertaken by current management.

The plan also suggests the potential for adjusted trading hours to meet customer expectations and this week the market’s traders are being surveyed to determine what opening hours would best suit their needs.

ACMA general manager Aaron Brumby told Brand SA News that an historic move to introduce Sunday trading is a possibility, as is longer trading on Saturdays.

He says adjusted trading hours could come into effect by the second half of 2018.

“The trading hours have been this way for nearly two decades and customer preferences are changing,” Aaron says.

“We are seeing a lot more people shop later into the evening and shopping on Sundays, so we need to review those hours with our traders … to see if there is something better we can do.

“We have nine million visitors a year and we’re still the number one tourist destination in SA, and we want that to continue and only improve.”

“The aim is for us, is to be the best produce market in the world.”

The Federal Hall lettering on the market’s Grote Street façade has been restored.

Aaron says the infrastructure upgrades would ensure that “behind the scenes facilities” such as toilets, lighting, communications systems, and heritage façades would “be in the best condition they can be and as contemporary as possible”.

However, retaining heritage and the market’s “grittiness” is also crucial, he says.

“The $22m we’re spending is more about customer comfort and changing things the customer can’t see,” Aaron says.

“The 2019/20 budget includes $2.5m to replace the air-conditioning and that will make a huge difference in summer … on a 40C day the market is normally 27C inside, but we’ll have it down to 20–21C.

“It will increase the shelf life of the produce.”

Recent infrastructure upgrades have included restoration of the façade at the Grote Street entrance, set to be completed in a fortnight.

“We have put the original lettering of Federal Hall back on the building,” Aaron says.

“The letters are one metre tall and set the building off beautifully.”

The Federal Hall as it was in 1912.

The ACMA is also hoping to activate the Grote and Gouger Street footpaths to create more activity and drive interest.

It also wants to feature more regional stallholders to showcase produce from areas including the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Clare Valley and Limestone Coast.

The market is currently home to the Kangaroo Island stall which allows consumers to sample and buy island produce, wine, spirits and other goods.

Stallholders will also be encouraged to “create theatre and demonstrate unique skills” to customers to liven the experience and build greater consumer-trader relationships.

“We can create a really good experience with tastings and have traders with a wealth of knowledge out the front of their shops spruiking their products and sharing with the consumer about what makes them so special,” Aaron says.

Fanis Katsarelias from Adelaide Central Market stall Wild Loaf.

He says the need to improve the market’s offerings and facilities is down to increased competition from 70 new supermarkets that have been built or refurbished across Adelaide in the past 10 years.

“We sell about one million kilograms of fruit and veg every month, that’s what makes us the pantry for the CBD,” Aaron says.

“For us to continue to sell those sorts of volumes and be successful, everything needs to be as good as it can be.”

The Adelaide Central Market is currently full at 76 traders and a waiting list of 16 businesses.

More than 500 people are employed throughout the market, with the average trader tenure lasting 42 years.

Lolly shop Blackeby’s Sweets is the longest running business at 102 years, while Charlesworth Nuts is the longest running business by the same family at 84 years, followed by Lucia’s at 60 years.

“That’s what makes the market special, that’s why we have multi-generational families in the market,” Aaron says.

“We’re the oldest market in Australia in its original location, we’ve been in this spot since 1869.”

Aaron will leave his position at the ACMA in July, before taking on a new role at SA disability organisation Bedford Group.

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

Barossa produce on show to 60,000 visitors

A selection of produce from the Barossa Valley’s finest makers will be showcased to more than 60,000 visitors who walk through the doors of the Barossa Visitor Centre (BVC) in an average year.

Industry body Barossa Food and the BVC have established a new produce display at the Tanunda main street centre to provide greater exposure for local food producers.

Products include Barossa Bark lavosh-style crispbread, Trevallie Orchard dried fruit, Seppeltsfield wine and Hutton Vale Farm preserves.

Visitor information centres across SA are go-to spots for tourists seeking advice, brochures or maps, with the BVC attracting more than 60,000 visitors annually.

The Barossa Council’s manager of tourism services, Jo Seabrook, says there has been strong visitor demand for a one-stop-shop for Barossa produce, allowing visitors to taste, learn and buy a range of local products in one location.

“There has been a recognised gap for a Barossa Food retail experience,” she says.

“Visitors coming to the region are looking for the farmer’s market experience seven days a week, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer an outlet for our food producers and visitors.”

The Barossa produce display features a variety of local produce allowing visitors to purchase a snapshot of the region’s produce in one location.

Barossa Food treasurer Paul Amos says the branded retail experience would appeal to both food aficionados and visitors wanting a taste of the region.

“The Barossa is a leading food producer and food destination, and now visitors can experience our food culture and commitment to sustainable food production in one central location,” he says.

“We believe this initiative will penetrate new markets and give our Barossa Food members a unique and unified retail presence that many couldn’t achieve on their own.”

The Barossa produce display is funded by Primary Industries and Regions SA.

In other Barossa news, one of the region’s biggest holiday parks is set to join the BIG4 Holiday Parks network this month.

The move by the Nuriootpa Centennial Park Authority (NCPA) for the town’s tourist park to join the national chain is expected to attract more visitors to the region, deliver an improved visitor experience and contribute to better sporting and recreational facilities for local residents.

The facility will now be known as the BIG4 Barossa Tourist Park and joins more than 180 BIG4 holiday parks around the country.

The rebranding complements a $2m upgrade by the Barossa Council and the NCPA to the park featuring new cabins, a meeting/games room, swimming pool and other improvements.

With more than three million nights of accommodation booked online through the national BIG4 network every year, Barossa Mayor Bob Sloane says the rebranding is a shot in the arm for regional tourism.

“This has capacity to not only attract more visitors but increase their length of stay and spend, which has a multiplier effect for our local businesses, wineries and tourism operators,” he adds.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]


Support local at the I Choose SA Farmers’ Market Weekend

There’s something charming about wandering through stalls overloaded with fresh veggies and sampling a slice of brie before having a yarn with a local grower … all in the same space!

That’s a South Australian farmers’ market for you, and this weekend we’re celebrating 11 of them across metropolitan and regional SA.

Brand South Australia is sharing the importance of shopping local at the I Choose SA Farmers’ Market Weekend on February 24 and 25.

Whether it’s just-picked fruit or freshly baked sourdough, when you shop local you’re not only buying high quality goods, but you’re supporting the endeavours of everyone involved.

“It’s really important to showcase our amazing local produce and remind all South Australians to choose locally sourced fresh produce,” says Brand South Australia CEO Karen Raffen.

So grab your shopping bag, free up your Saturday or Sunday morning (or both!) and get ready to chat to locals, sample some local fare and do your bit for our state’s farmers and food producers.

Need something to carry around your goods? I Choose SA tote bags are available from Brand South Australia’s online marketplace, Shop South Australia.

The Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers’ Market features produce from different corners of SA.

Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Leader Street, Wayville
WHEN: Sunday, February 25, 8am–noon

This market was named the nation’s best farmers’ market in 2015 by the Australian Traveller magazine, so it’s one definitely worth a stop.

This Sunday Celebrity chef Simon Bryant will host a cooking demonstration from 11am.

Buskers, live music and kids games will also add to the atmosphere, but best to get in early as the market usually attracts about 6000 people!

Adelaide Hills Farmers’ Market
WHERE: 23 Mann Street, Mt Barker
WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 8.30am–12.30pm

The Hills market will feature a cooking demonstration by Season Garden Café owner Silvia Hart from 10.30–11.30am.

An animal nursery will entertain kids from 9.30am–12.30pm, while face painting and live music will also unfold.

Keen to hear something a little different? Be sure to chat to the owners of Adelaide Hills Pastured Eggs, who will tell you all about the Maremma sheepdogs who protect the farm’s hens from predators.

Is there anything better than the smell of freshly baked bread or pastries? No, there is not.

Barossa Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Cnr Nuriootpa and Stockwell Roads, Angaston
WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 7.30–11.30am

From jams to award-winning cream, dried fruit, fresh veggies, olive oil and dukkah, this market features the best of the Barossa (and was named 9th best in Australia in 2015 by the Australian Traveller magazine).

Aside from the usual offerings, the Barossa Farmers’ Market will this weekend feature a scavenger hunt and hide and seek games to keep kids entertained.

Cittaslow Goolwa Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Jeralde Park, Goolwa Wharf Precinct
WHEN: Sunday, February 25, 9am–1pm

Teams will put their Webers (and other smoking equipment) to the test this Sunday for the annual Cittaslow Smoke Off.

From ham to fish, beef and chicken, cooks will smoke all kinds of fare in hope of being crowned the best.

A smoked meat demonstration will also show market goers how it’s done.

Kingscote Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Bay of Shoals Winery, Kangaroo Island
WHEN: Sunday, February 25, 10am–2pm

Islander Bridgette Bruce from Flavours of Petite Provence will cook up a storm in her market to plate cooking demonstration.

Located at the scenic Bay of Shoals Winery, this market is one for having a cuppa, grabbing some food, having a browse and making a morning of it.


Mt Gambier Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Watson Terrace, Mt Gambier
WHEN: Saturday, February 25, 9am–noon

You can’t go past the Limestone Larder Pies, Kalangadoo Organic juices or the Pine Ridge Honey, just to name a few.

Nor can you go past produce picked just the day before the market.

Kids will be entertained and educated about life on an Aussie farm through a performance by George the Farmer.

Mt Pleasant Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Mt Pleasant Showgrounds, Melrose Street, Mt Pleasant
WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 8am–noon

2014 My Kitchen Rules winner Bree May, now behind ‘Food According to Bree’, – will host a cooking demonstration from 9.30am. The first 20 people to grab a seat will receive a free goodie bag!

This under-cover market features quality produce from the southern Barossa and Adelaide Hills and will also feature an SA Food Trail.


Riverland Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Berri Senior Citizens’ Hall, Crawford Terrace, Berri
WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 7.30–11.30am

This Riverland gem is a popular meeting place for locals and visitors as the brekky bar offers a range of local food choices, freshly squeezed orange juice and, of course, locally roasted coffee.

To get a good overview of this food bowl region, check out stallholders Glen View Poultry Farm, Riverland Dried Fruits, and Bella Lavender.

Victor Harbor Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Grosvenor Gardens, Torrens Street, Victor Harbor
WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 8am–12.30pm

This is the place to embrace and support Fleurieu producers.

From home-style baked treats to boxes of stone fruits, hand crafted choccies, and wild caught seafood – the Victor Harbor market is a seaside treat.

Also, don’t miss Victor Hotel’s Dan Armon’s cooking demonstration!

Willunga Farmers’ Market bustles with hundreds of people every Saturday.

Willunga Farmers’ Market
WHERE: Willunga Town Square, Main Road, Willunga
WHEN: Saturday, February 24, 8am–12.30pm

Celebrity chef Simon Bryant will delight the audience’s senses with a cooking demonstration from 10.30am.

This weekend the market is also celebrating its 16th birthday with games and activities for the kids as well as henna tattoos and face painting.

Grab a coffee, have a graze, and stock up for the week ahead.

Wirrabara Producers’ Market
WHERE: High Street, Wirrabara
WHEN: Sunday, February 25, 8.30am–noon

The Mid North is not exempt from farmers’ market frivolities – the Southern Flinders Ranges town of Wirrabara is a foodie’s haven.

Whether it’s homegrown, handmade or home-cooked – you’ll find something to fill your tote bag.

Check out local craft stalls, taste a drip of local honey or simply watch the crowd go by in the sunshine.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

South Australia’s mushroom men in the market for expansion

Growing up in the family’s fruit and veg shop must have rubbed off on South Australian brothers Nick and Nat Femia.

For almost half a century their father Sam worked as a greengrocer, with 36 of those years spent at Sam’s Fruit Market in St Agnes Shopping Centre in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

But it seems one vegetable in particular stuck with the Femia brothers – mushrooms.

Nick and Nat, together with Sam, are behind family business SA Mushrooms, based at Waterloo Corner on the Adelaide Plains.

Every week 20 tonnes of Swiss brown, white button, field mushrooms – and a special Vitamin D rich variety – are grown in a humid climate controlled facility.

The mushrooms are grown in a climate controlled facility at Waterloo Corner before being harvested and transported to the SA Produce Markets.

But it’s when they hit South Australia’s biggest fruit and veg wholesale markets, the SA Produce Markets at Pooraka, that the real action begins.

“The farm is located 15km from the SA Produce Market – we’re the closest mushroom farm to a wholesale market in the country,” says Nick, CEO of SA Mushrooms.

“It’s good for our carbon footprint.”

The SA Produce Market is the biggest of its kind in the state, selling 250,000 tonnes of produce, worth a combined $550m, between wholesalers, growers and retail operators every year.

It’s the only wholesale market that supplies to independent fruit and veg retailers in SA such as IGA, Foodland and independent retailers.

“Every mushroom that we grow ends up at the produce market,” Nick says.

“From here our mushrooms are trucked to independent supermarkets including 110 Foodland stores across the state.

“Our mushrooms also end up in pizza bars and restaurants, and we are heavily dedicated to the greengrocers, after all, my dad was a greengrocer.”

SA Mushrooms is one of many traders at the market, the state’s primary fresh produce wholesale market.

The SA Produce Market is pivotal to the northern food bowl area, as almost half of SA Produce Market traders are growers from the Northern Plains, in particular Virginia.

Nicol Carrots, IG Fresh Produce, and T Musolino and Co are all said to have undergone farm expansions or celebrate innovations in recent years – achievements reflective of SA’s strong agribusiness sector.

SA Mushrooms isn’t exempt from growth either.

Nick says the business has experienced significant growth across production, staff numbers and turnover and that an expansion is on the horizon.

“We’re in the process of planning for an expansion in the next year-and-a-half across our composting and production facility,” he says.

“Our staff will increase from 50 to 100.”

The SA Produce Market is also set to undergo a new chapter by way of a $25m expansion.

The project includes new food processing, packing and warehousing facilities, export consolidation, and retail tenancies.

The SA Produce Market is will undergo an expansion that is expected to significantly benefit local businesses.

SA Produce Market CEO Angelo Demasi says the growth will allow businesses to consolidate their manufacturing processes and have direct access to the market.

“The opportunity to work so closely to the market and have their operations in a similar place is a huge benefit to businesses that are looking to expand,” he says.

“The project is currently in the early stages with businesses in discussions that would benefit significantly from the project.”

Angelo says the market plays an important part in the SA economy, with more than 1500 people employed on site.

“ … 13,500 permanent and an additional 24,000 seasonal staff all rely at different levels on the SA Produce Market on a daily basis,” he says.

“Horticulture contributes $3.232 billion to the SA economy on gross food revenue of which $1.65 billion is attributed to the markets.”

Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.