Briefcase: Business snippets from around SA

In this week’s briefcase, a new harvest report predicts record high production and value, a major defence contractor announces an Adelaide education partnership, and the 2022 South Australian “Cherry King” is revealed.

Photo: supplied

Photo: supplied

Harvest report predicts records

The latest South Australian Crop and Pasture Report predicts South Australia’s 2022-23 harvest will break production levels and farm gate value records.

The record high production estimate of 12.1 million tonnes combined with high global grain prices means the farm gate value is estimated to come in at $4.4 billion, breaking last year’s previous record high value of $3.3 billion.

The report revealed an ideal finish to spring, with cool conditions, above average spring rain, and good soil moisture from a crop generally in good to excellent condition, has contributed to the record high production.

Crop harvest and hay baling has been delayed by the late spring storms and rain in October and November, with reports of crop damage in some districts, and weather-related grain quality issues.

High canola prices have resulted in increased canola area at the expense of barley, and the decline in pea area continued to a record low this year.

Harvest progress is considerably behind compared to average years, with harvest expected to continue into the new year in many districts, but there is expected to be significant tonnage delivered into stores from late November.

Livestock are in good to excellent condition, and spring pasture feed availability is above average.

Grain reserves are sufficient to cover feed requirements, but rain spoilage of new cut hay is widespread with quality less than average.

New college to support defence industry

The state government has announced that British arms manufacturer BAE Systems will be a key employer partner at the new Findon Technical College.

The college is part of a $209 million dollar commitment from the state government to build five technical colleges across South Australia.

The other colleges will be located at the Heights School in the north-east and at the site of Tonsley TAFE in the southern suburbs. There will also be two regional colleges – one in Port Augusta and the other in Mount Gambier.

“Findon Technical College will be the first of our technical colleges to open and will set a standard for excellence in its design, learning environment and provision of skilled-based training,” said Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer.

According to the government, Findon Technical College, which is expected to open in 2024, will address critical skills shortages by providing students with hands-on industry experience in facilities that are designed to replicate actual workplaces.

The college will support industries such as defence, ship and submarine building and will provide career pathways to welders, programmers, and robotic technicians, among others.

There will also be vocational programs for careers in early childhood and education.

“Technical Colleges provide a great foundation for industry to engage with students, provide early hands-on exposure to new industrial technologies, and support career connections,” said Georgette Elston, Head of Resourcing and Early Careers at BAE Systems.

In October, BAE Systems was awarded a $45 million, three-year extension to its contract to provide periscope support to the Royal Australian Navy’s six Collins Class submarines, with more work to stay in South Australia.

– Charlie Gilchrist

Master Builders call for action on inflation

The large rise in new home costs is one of the main reasons why the inflation rate has risen across the economy, according to Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

She said difficulties with the supply of materials and labour has been placing pressure on new home building activity and this has helped push new dwelling purchase prices up by 20.4 per cent over the year to October 2022.

“There was a 2.2 per cent increase in the total volume of construction work done during the September 2022 quarter,” Wawn said.

This was largely driven by the solid increase in civil/engineering construction (3.4 per cent) over the quarter. However, there were also gains for both residential (1.3 per cent) and non-residential building (1.1 per cent) over the same period, according to Master Builders Australia.

“Looking ahead, newly released approvals data indicate that home building activity will move lower over coming months,” Wawn said.

“There was a 6 per cent drop in the total number of new home building approvals during October 2022 and a particularly sharp decline of 11.3 per cent in the number of medium/high density dwellings.”

Master Builders Australia wants state and territory governments to fix issues that frustrate the industry like lengthy delays in approvals for land title, development and building applications and occupation certificates.

Cherry King crowned for 2022

Rainbow Fresh Owner Joe Giangregorio was crowned the 2022 Cherry King last week after receiving $50,000 for his 5kg box of cherries at the annual cherry auction held at the South Australian Produce Market in Pooraka.

The money raised will go to the Leukaemia Foundation, which supports 135,000 Australians living with blood cancer.

Leukaemia Foundation general manager of blood cancer partnerships Tim Murphy said they were delighted to partner with the SA Produce Market as their “Cherrity-of-choice” this year.

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“We thank them and the generous bidders of Adelaide whose ‘cherriosity’ will help the Leukaemia Foundation ensure blood cancer patients across the country have access to the right information, support and care they need to fight the disease as well as someone to turn to every step of the way,” Murphy said.

The South Australian cherry season commenced in mid-November when small numbers of cherries from the Riverland appeared at the South Australian Produce Market, with peak supplies from the Adelaide Hills due in mid- to late-December.

“The growers have had a delay to the season due to poor weather, but we are all hoping for a bumper Christmas cherry season for our South Australian growers,” said South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven.

“I encourage everyone to continue to support our local growers as much as possible during this summer season.”

– Charlie Gilchrist

VALO eyes expanded Monarto facility

South Australian lighting company VALO says it will expand to a 65,000 square metre warehouse in Monarto for advanced industrial manufacturing and industrial hemp processing.

The facility, a former Big W distribution centre, will supplement VALO’s production of stadium lighting products in Kent Town.

It has so far been used this year to construct major lighting displays at motorsport events, including VALO’s sponsor event the Adelaide 500.

According to VALO, more than 20 people are currently employed at the Monarto site so far.

“With this expansion, VALO will be employing more people in regional South Australia and growing jobs in the state, which will boost the economy,” VALO CEO Aaron Hickmann said in a statement.

“Basing our LED digital display technology business at the Monarto Innovation Precinct also supports VALO’s plans to export to the US, Europe and Southeast Asia.”

Hickmann also said the expanded site would provide research opportunities as a processing facility for industrial hemp, with more than 8000 Agave plants already housed at the site.

The plants have been used for research on topics such as green hydrogen, Hickmann said.

FOMENT tech accelerator returns in 2023

Australia’s wine, viticulture and tourism tech accelerator is calling for its fourth intake and is encouraging applications from across the wine supply chain.

The next FOMENT Accelerator Program runs over six weeks in South Australia starting in February 2023 and is run in partnership with Hydra Consulting, the Wine Industry Suppliers Association (WISA) and Flinders New Venture Institute (NVI).

Participants of the 2023 program will experience an immersion week in the Barossa Valley, weekly expert coaching, global mentoring and networking opportunities.

Darren Oemcke, co-founder and head coach at FOMENT, said they want to increase the critical mass of start-ups in wine industry tech so there is more wine focussed tech emerging globally.

“[This will] accelerate the uptake of tech by growers, winemakers, marketers and tourism providers as well as to increase the size of the antipodean wine, viticulture and tourism community,” he said.

WISA executive officer Shirley Fraser said the association used the program to help the industry adopt new technologies.

“Supporting innovation through the FOMENT Accelerator is the bridge for WISA to facilitate great ideas and innovation to practical solutions for the capability and competitiveness of the wine sector,” she said.

Start-ups are invited to apply to join the accelerator before December 16.

– Chelsea Lancione

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