Home' Grower : March 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- March 2013
for carrot trade
By MAX OPRAY
CARROT growers in South
Australia are under pressure
to make better-quality
produce to meet the demands of an
increasingly picky public.
The State represents 17 per cent
of the $188-million national
Among its major players are
Zerella Fresh which grows Mojo,
Stefano and Ricardo carrots across
the Mallee area, Virginia, Port
Gawler, and Milang.
Such climatically diverse growing
locations mean the family-owned
business produces carrots all-year
round, along with potatoes, onions,
Zerella Fresh general manager
Paul White, who has been in the
role since 2008, says more
customers are looking for carrots
that are not just good to taste but
have a nice colour to them.
"The quality demanded by
consumers and, therefore,
supermarkets and local green
grocers, will continue to increase,"
"The challenge is for suppliers like
Zerella to meet this demand
sustainably without increasing the
To do so, Zerella Fresh has
invested more than $4m to upgrade
its packing house to incorporate
optical sizing and grading, vegetable
polishers, and hydro-cooling
Zerella is also working to get
better at managing the risks
involved in growing large volumes
in the extreme weather conditions
found in open fields.
The company is engaging a
marketing campaign to promote a
new variety of low-carb potato, and
expects the promotion to benefit all
products under the Zerella brand.
According to AUSVEG -- the
peak industry body for vegetable
growers -- carrots represented the
biggest fresh vegetable export in
Australia last year, rounding-up a
net worth of $51m in 2011-12.
Exports are not so significant in
South Australia and with little by
way of foreign competition in the
domestic market, growers have not
been as affected by the high
Australian dollar as those in many
Mr White says Zerella Fresh
exports carrots only when there is a
surplus, after domestic market needs
"Rather than dumping it all into
local markets, we prefer to send
them abroad," he said.
"We tend to export in bursts to
Japan and the Middle East -- maybe
three or four shipments in a couple
of weeks -- than nothing for a few
BD&MD Nicol & Son Pty Ltd is
another big player in the local
The company employs 60 people
in its growing, washing and packing
facilities and in the marketing and
wholesale of produce at an Adelaide
Produce Market stall.
It sells all of its produce
BD&MD Nicol has a 250-hectare
site in Virginia and focuses on the
Ricardo carrot, which suits local
conditions and is healthy and
consistent over a 12-month
har vesting period.
According to Doug Nicol, son of
business founder Barry, the local
soil is low in nitrogen and
potassium, encouraging sugar
accumulation in roots and resulting
in sweeter-tasting carrots.
Mr Nicol says quality
requirements are a key challenge for
growers, and that his company is
always seeking to improve farm
productivity and sustainability.
"We're coming up with new
solutions to get fresh carrots to the
consumer quicker, along with
ongoing variety trials," he said.
"We are also undertaking soil
sustainability efforts and keeping up
with modern technology."
Mr Nicol identifies controlled
track farming, crop rotation, and
cover cropping as key parts of his
business' efforts to improve soil
"We'll also be working on
integrated pest management
strategies and improvement of post-
har vest management."
Details: Zerella Fresh 08 8380 9096,
BD&MD Nicol & Son Pty Ltd 08 8284 7535.
Demand for better colour
Investing in new facilities
Soil sustainability big focus
Nicol says his
and is coming
carrots to the
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