Article by: Hari Yellina
In Victoria’s north-west, millions of dollars will be invested in Australia’s largest dried fruit property. The 750-hectare Advinco Farm in Nangiloc has been leased for a long time by Golden Dried Fruits (GDF), whose parent business, Scalzo Food Industries, also owns the processing company Australian Premium Dried Fruits. GDF will become Australia’s largest dried grape grower, according to Craig Greenwood, CEO of Australian Premium Dried Fruits. “In the next three to five years, this will hopefully pump 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of volume into our business,” Mr Greenwood added. “At the moment, the farm is nowhere near that volume.”
“It’ll take a lot of TLC, a nice drink, and a healthy feed, as well as two or three years of careful farming procedures, to get it back to excellent health.” “However, in a market where supply is shrinking, signing up a property that represents this volume is a fantastic result for any dried fruit company.” Mr Greenwood described the conventional dried fruit grower in Australia as a 60-year-old man with a modest, low-yield farm. He claimed it was impossible to reinvest in infrastructure and farming practises that would allow them to compete, leading many to sell out to the more lucrative table grape industry.
“Germany and Italy are still big buyers of five-crown sultanas from Australia.” Dried fruit is becoming more popular in Asia, according to Mr Greenwood. “We also sell to Japan, and China is an emerging market,” he added. The acquisition of Advinco Farm, according to Mark King, chair of peak industry group Dried Fruits Australia, will be a huge boost for the industry. “It’s critical, and I must say, it’s wonderful to hear,” he remarked. “As an industry, we were concerned that this site would have been converted to wine grapes or table grapes, which would have been a significant loss to the sector.”
Mr King added that current demand for Australian dried fruits was causing processors to struggle, a situation that the Advinco lease may help GDF alleviate. “Orders come in all the time,” he remarked. “People would come up to us and say they wanted a few thousand tonnes of dried fruit before the virus, so we’d send them to one of the three big processors [Sunbeam, Murray River Organics, and Australian Premium Dried Fruit], who’d later tell me, ‘That bloke wanted 500 containers, and we started them off with one.’ “We simply don’t have enough. “With that kind of competitiveness out there, if you can grow 4 tonnes per acre, the returns are quite good.” Advinco Farm’s lease starts on July 1st.