New on-the-ground projects will give farmers in Barker more tools and research to help them reduce farm costs, increase productivity and achieve greater returns at the farmgate.

Member for Barker, Tony Pasin MP said Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce had this week announced funding for 31 new projects across Australia as part of the Australian Government’s $21.2 million Landcare Innovation Grants.

Click here to read The Minister's full media release.

Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, the peak industry body for the potato industry value chain, has been awarded funding of $409,800 (excl GST) through the Federal Department of Agriculture’s National Landcare Innovation Grants for a two year project which will help develop a more reliable soil Phosphorus test.

“Commercial potato growing requires the application of high levels of Phosphorus fertiliser” explained Robbie Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Potatoes South Australia. “The correct application rates are critical for the financial and environmental sustainability of the industry, however there are scientifically documented challenges for the established soil testing methods to reliably predict Phosphorous requirements for the potato over a range of soil types. This can result in over application and wastage of nutrients.”

Read the full media release here.

POTATO KING: Crowning Thomas Farm Fresh General Manager Jamie Roberts 'potato king' after he successfully bid $8500 for a box of new season potatoes were Senator Sean Edwards and Little Heroes Foundation's Chair Chris McDermott.[/caption]

At an Industry Dinner on Friday night, an auction of new season baby potatoes resulted in a final bid of a very impressive $8,500. This was for 15kgs so that means these very special potatoes actually sold for $567,000 per tonne! This surpassed last year’s inaugural bid of $3,000 ($200,000/tonne) by Adelaide Produce Market’s CEO, Angelo Demasi.
Mr Tony Wetherall, Stud Stock Manager, Elders Rural Services, a corporate sponsor, transferred his highly regarded auctioneering skills from the livestock saleyards to the horticultural arena, working a room of more than 100 key industry stakeholders to produce this outstanding result. Tony is well remembered as the auctioneer responsible for the world-breaking record of $450,000 for the sale of a Merino ram at the Adelaide Ram Sales in 1990.

Read the full Media Release here.

The South Australian New Season Baby Potatoes Auction will be held at an Industry Dinner on Friday 1 November 2013.  This annual auction is organised by Potatoes South Australia Inc, the peak representative body for the potato industry value chain, and there will be a competitive bid for a box of premium baby potatoes; the first for the season.

The first auction was held last year, and $3,000 was raised for the Little Heroes Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting children living with cancer and serious illness, and their families. Again, all proceeds from this year’s auction will support the Foundation.

Robbie Davis, CEO of Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, said “South Australia is the nation’s largest potato producer with farm gate production worth $206 million and it is only fitting that we celebrate Spring’s potato harvest. Potatoes also represent the largest horticulture contribution to the state’s gross food revenue (>$440 million)”.

Click here to read the full media release

The South Australian potato industry is facing yet another hurdle in what is already a highly competitive market.

Yesterday, McCain Foods announced that it will close its potato processing plant in Penola, South Australia by December 20, 2013. The processing sector in the Limestone Coast alone is worth approximately $35 million at farm gate. Australia-wide, the processing sector is worth $150 million at farm gate.

Australia has one of the highest raw material costs in the world, which is unsustainable in the long term and continuously rising input costs, such as labour and electricity, coupled with a surplus capacity, contributed to the closure decision.

Imports of cheaper processed potatoes have risen from 10,000 tonnes in 2002 to a decade-high of 130,000 tonnes at the end of 2012.

Click here to read the full press release.

As reported in PotatoPro, August 2013

Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has released "Woolworths Trolley Trends", a report focused on the changes in the spending pattern of their Australian Shoppers over the past 25 years. The report also highlights the dramatic change in the position of the potato in that shopping cart over this period.

Over the 25 years reviewed, Australia has become a cosmopolitan community and our tastebuds have embraced global flavours. The way we eat and how we spend our money on food and other costs of living tell a unique story about how our country has changed.

Woolworths commissioned the research into Australia’s shopping habits with context provided by analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Household Expenditure Surveys, Census and Reserve Bank of Australia by leading social researcher, KPMG’s Bernard Salt.

The Woolworths Trolley Trends report has revealed a vastly different Australia to the one that existed 25 years ago. The modern Australian household is less likely to have exclusive Anglo-Australian heritage, less likely to identify with religion, more likely to be highly educated and more likely to have both partners working. Today’s family might be a single, a couple or have adult kids living at home well into in their twenties and still relying on mum and dad for support. These changes are reflected in their shopping trolleys.

The trolley transformation:

The potato was Australia’s side dish of choice in 1984 accounting for 72% of our side dish purchases. This has dropped to 39%, with the popularity of pasta, noodles and rice increasing to now make up 61% of side dish purchases.

Read the report "Woolworths Trolley Trends"


The South Australian State Government has awarded more than $50,000 to the potato and wine industries for initiatives to make sure workers have skills to meet increasing production demands.

Potatoes SA has been awarded $43,500 to plan for the future needs across the five key potato
growing regions – Kangaroo Island, the Mallee, the Riverland/Murraylands, the Northern
Adelaide Plains and the South East.

South Australia currently produces 80 per cent of the nation’s fresh washed potatoes.

Click here to download the full media release.

Marc Soccio, Senior Analyst Wine, Horticulture and Rural Economics, Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory at Rabobank provided two regional presentations to the potato industry recently; in Virginia and Mt Gambier. Marc, accompanied by Frank Young, Branch Manager, Adelaide office and Alison Tierney, Marketing Manager SA, also spoke to the Potatoes South Australia Board and key stakeholders.

The topic was 'Who are you selling to? Keeping tabs on the eating and shopping habits of a changing Australian society'.

It examined consumer demand away from staples, including the potato, and the consumption of substitutes including other carbohydrates and vegetables. This is a trend also seen in the USA, UK and NZ.

The presentation dovetailed with our current research project concerning the success of generic marketing in the food sector.

Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) team is charged with analysing developments in food and agricultural markets and industries, and advising the bank and its clients on strategic implications for their businesses.

Click here to download the presentation Rabobank_SA Horticulture Presentation_July-2013

Click here to download the bio of Marc Soccio, Rabobank

The peak representative body for the potato industry value chain, Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, has appointed experienced and highly-regarded Director and Chairman Mr Brian Cunningham, as its Independent Chair, at a meeting of the Board of Management in Adelaide, last night.

With over 20 years as a Chief Executive in both the private and public sectors, Mr Cunningham brings significant high level management experience to the Potatoes South Australia Boardroom. Mr Cunningham’s experience in business growth, investment opportunities, technologies and business, governance and structures and in budget setting, financial statements, and in audit and risk management will be significant assets for Potatoes South Australia with its talented group of newly constituted Directors. Robbie Davis, CEO, and the Board of Potatoes South Australia are delighted with Mr Cunningham’s appointment.

“The membership-based ‘not-for-profit’ association continues to improve its capacity and professionalism in the delivery of relevant, timely, value-adding information and services to industry stakeholders in the nation’s largest horticultural sector. This strengthening at Board level will ensure that our strategic direction remains on target as the business further evolves, involving new complexities and challenges,” Ms Davis said.

“Brian will lead a Board of very talented, passionate industry and independent directors, who collectively have a skillset complementing the organisation’s growth. The strategic input of an Independent Chair will provide the vehicle for harnessing the skills of this new Board to achieve the higher level goals of the organisation supported by appropriate governance arrangements”, she added.

The current Board comprises Mark Geraghty; General Manager Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Elders, Jeffrey Jackson; CEO, Moraitis Group, Gary O’Neill; General Manager-Farms, The Mitolo Group, Ross Trimboli; GTS Farms, James Wandel; Kangaroo Island Irrigated Seed Producers Group, Paul White; General Manager, Zerella Fresh and Andrew Widdison, Chair South East Potato Growers Association.

In terms of corporate profile and history, Mr Cunningham is probably best known in Australian Rules football states in Australia for his key leadership role in the successful tender for an Australian Football League Club franchise licence in 1994. This resulted in Port Adelaide Football Club entering the National competition in 1997. He subsequently drove the growth and development of this state-based sporting club to a highly successful National
football league entity in the period 1996-2004.

Subsequently Mr Cunningham was recruited into senior Government roles as a Chief Executive in 2005 where he became recognised as an initiator and driver of organisational and cultural change in two significant Government Departments.

He led the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (budget $480 million and over 6000 full and part-time staff) through a successful change management program and structural reform implemented in 2005-2008.

In his most recent public sector role as Chief Executive of the Department of Trade and Economic Development (2008-2010), Mr Cunningham led the South Australian Government’s key agency for economic and industry development.

Mr Cunningham said he was delighted with his new role. “Potatoes South Australia has a unique opportunity to represent and drive this important sector of the state’s primary production. The Board is made up of a highly skilled group of Directors and collectively the Board recognises and looks forward to addressing the challenges in the industry going forward”.

Since leaving his last CEO role in 2010, Mr Cunningham has developed a niche and rapidly growing business consultancy focussing on people and business strategies. Aside from consultancy work he undertakes in both public and private sectors, he currently serves as a Director on six other Boards, and is Chairman of three of these.

For interviews and further information contact:
Robbie Davis 0427 084 319
Brian Cunningham 0414 970 008

The peak industry body for potatoes, Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, will launch its website today. This long-awaited site will be the major communication tool used by the whole-of-value chain organisation to connect with its members, stakeholders, the broader industry and the wider community.

Relationship-building has been key to the organisation’s momentum and expansion across industry sectors and across borders; its goal is to set the benchmark for service provision for its members and the industry.

The website will have a dedicated ‘members only’ area with membership available to anyone with an interest in the potato industry. Categories include full membership for growers and associate membership for all others in the value chain.

Information includes the history of the potato and the organisation, industry sectors, state, national and international industry statistics and reports, workforce issues, biosecurity at state and national levels, R&D projects and current projects being undertaken by the organisation. There is also considerable emphasis on the consumer, including valuable nutritional information and gastronomy.

Robbie Davis, CEO of Potatoes South Australia Incorporated, is keen to see the website used as the industry’s electronic ‘bible’. “We are determined to provide relevant, ‘in touch’ and up-to-date information which the industry needs and values,” Ms Davis said.

“Our members and stakeholders will largely determine the website’s content and future direction and we will look to them for advice,” she added. “Our aim is to combine function and form in the creation of a contemporary, user-friendly, relevant, global networking product. The site will be continually improved with more and more functions coming on line in the next weeks.”

Potatoes South Australia is the representative organisation for the potato industry which is the state and nation’s largest horticultural sector. It provides a range of relevant value- adding quality services to foster growth and development at every link of the value chain.

A “not for profit” membership-based incorporated association, Potatoes South Australia provides the voice for seed producers, fresh market growers, processing growers, packers, processors, marketers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers, service providers, restaurants and consumers.

This is a ‘first’ in the Australian potato industry and the organisation has been established following expansive industry consultation.

Built by Arris Pty Ltd, the website will provide the latest industry news and media in addition to a monthly e-newsletter and LinkedIn and Twitter functions.


For interviews and further information contact:

Robbie Davis 0427 084 319