Experiencing the best of South Australian Agribusinesses

In today’s blog our student of Master of Global Food and Agricultural Business, Alyssa Mittiga recounts her experience of the ‘Experiences and Insights into Agri Food Systems’ Course.

Over one intensive week in May, Master students from the Global Food and Agricultural Business program were privileged to gain an inside view into the operations of over 15 South Australian food and wine businesses and associations.

Our hosts varied in scale and ethos from passionate CEO turned craft brewers; at Prancing Pony, to the force-to-be-reckoned with; Bickford’s Australia. The week started sweet at Ashton Valley Fresh, watching juicy apples have an x-ray to ensure their bite was right. Then, marvelling at the no-apple-waste system, that came as second nature to the Ceravolo family; who turn their lower-grade apples into juice and cider. We embarked on tour after tour, stepping over the powdered floors of Laucke Flour Mills, to tasting the delicious samples offered at Barossa Valley Cheese Company. In Virginia we saw greenhouses full of capsicums thriving in healthy soil and beds of hydroponic lettuce. We gained insight into the evolution of wholesale meat and produce operations at Drakes warehouses, and hung out in Costa’s banana ripening room at the Adelaide Produce Markets.

The diversity in the businesses we visited, helped provide an insight into the scope of the agricultural industry in South Australia. The variety allowed us to compare the differences within these businesses and also the common challenges; like high labour costs, lack of water, saturation of markets and lack of government funding. We also saw the common components that contributed to the businesses successes; such as marketing tactics and the tried and tested ‘customer is always right’ mentality.

Like the rain that dropped down on South Australian soil over the week, our class agreed that this course was a much-needed and invaluable resource. We were provided with stories, innovations, business challenges and opportunities shared generously by the businesses CEO’s, managers and workers. We were overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm, insight and time that our hosts provided us with – reflecting the strong sense of support that exists within the South Australian agricultural community.  The course truly gave us as students context and a greater understanding of the theories we are learning over our Master’s program. It was inspiring to see how the week ignited the entrepreneurial spirit of students, particularly international students from developing countries.

Students looking to undertake this course, do so and enrol now before it fills up! The small class size (capped at 20 students) means that you have to be quick to get in. The class is capped for good reason, as it was the intimate nature of our visits which made this experience so unique. We each had an almost unlimited opportunity to engage and ask our hosts questions, each one receiving genuine, personal answers. It was truly an invaluable experience. But before you log onto Access Adelaide to pick up the course, don’t be fooled- the week was not as easy as just sipping award-winning Indian Ale. At some points, it was a gruelling journey, however, the sleep in the eyes of students boarding our bus at 5am was always accompanied by a glimmer of excitement, as we anticipated the day ahead.

We cannot thank all of our hosts enough for providing us with their time and sharing the stories of their businesses – as well as our professors, Craig Johns and Theo Simos for facilitating the week and our ever-reliable and extra patient bus driver, David.

Tagged in Student contributions, News