Briefcase: Business Snippets from around South Australia

In this week’s briefcase, Adelaide Hills Food is acquired by the social enterprise Cultivate Food and Beverage, South Australian crop harvests exceed expectations, Nova Eye Medical raises $8 million for the expansion of its glaucoma treatment and the state government opens a second round of grants to tackle skill shortages.

Feb 19, 2024, updated Feb 19, 2024
Adelaide Hills Foods founders Andrew and Susan Horwood with Bedford divisional general manager Travis Kerkman. Photo: Supplied.

Adelaide Hills Foods founders Andrew and Susan Horwood with Bedford divisional general manager Travis Kerkman. Photo: Supplied.

Adelaide Hills Foods acquired by social enterprise Cultivate Food and Beverage

Lobethal-based fine foods distributor Adelaide Hills Foods has been bought by Cultivate Food and Beverage – a social enterprise backed by disability services provider Bedford.

The price for the deal was undisclosed, but Cultivate said it had earmarked “major growth plans for the hugely successful and iconic South Australian bakery and food manufacturing company”.

Adelaide Hills Foods’ stable of brands includes the Emmaline’s product range of baked goods, Emma + Myrtles Bakehouse, James Road and Barossa Pizza.

The Bedford subsidiary said it would create more employment opportunities for South Australians by increasing production capability at Adelaide Hills Foods.

“The Adelaide Hills Foods and Cultivate partnership delivers the South Australian food manufacturing sector significant growth opportunities,” Bedford divisional general manager Travis Kerkman said.

“At Cultivate, we have a scalable workforce and production facilities, enabling Adelaide Hills Foods to grow its national retail footprint to meet market demand.

“We are committed to delivering more of Adelaide Hills Foods’ delicious, quality products to consumers around the country and this aligns with Cultivate’s strategy to expand services to more partners as we enter the retail industry.”

Adelaide Hills Foods founders Andrew and Susan Horwood will remain an “integral” part of the business according to Cultivate.

“We are thrilled to work in partnership with Cultivate to build our production capacity to meet the ever-growing demand for Adelaide Hills Foods product range,” Andrew said.

“Our Lobethal factory is near capacity and Cultivate provides the perfect business solution with access to their Brooklyn Park facility in the immediate term and an expanded workforce.”

– David Simmons

South Australia reported more positive harvests than expected in 2023-2024. Photo: Brandon Giesbrecht.

South Australia reports a positive crop harvest

South Australia’s 2023-24 crop harvest has produced an estimated 9.3 million tonnes, which is less than last year’s 12.8 million tonnes but still better than expected. The state also produced a Farm Gate Value of $3.6 billion.

According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, growers are reporting an average to slightly above average grain yield, except in parts of the Upper Eyre Peninsula and Mid/Upper North and northern Mallee, which were affected by frost.

The department said that dry and warm conditions in November saw producers experience their earliest-ever start and finish of harvest in many districts, allowing them to complete their harvest by early December with excellent grain quality.

It also said that rain during December delayed the harvest of some crops and reduced their quality, but strong feed grain prices have balanced this out for growers.

Grain Producers SA CEO Brad Perry said that “[a]n overall crop of more than nine million tonnes across South Australia is pleasing in light of the very dry finish in the months leading up to harvest.”

“Recent rains have prompted weed growth but have also provided sub-soil moisture on many broadacre cropping properties. Hopefully, this rainfall will provide good conditions for seeding in the coming months,” he said.

“With the report estimating the crop to be worth more than $3.5 billion, it once again demonstrates the importance of the South Australian grain sector to the state’s economy.”

– Charlie Gilchrist

Nova Eye Medical raises $8 million for glaucoma treatment expansion

Adelaide-based Nova Eye Medical last week raised $8 million to advance growth opportunities for its glaucoma business.

Comprised of a $3 million placement to shareholders and a $5 million entitlement offer, the funds will go towards expanding the geographical presence for its iTrack Advance product in the US and Europe, and to broaden its portfolio of glaucoma surgical devices.

The company says it has $10 million in cash following the completion of the capital raise.

David Simmons

South Australians invited to provide their experience with Building Indemnity Insurance

South Australians have been asked to provide feedback on Building Indemnity Insurance (BII) as part of a state government review into the insurance aimed at protecting homeowners when building a house.

Builders are legally required to take out BII when signing on to a major building contract, which is designed to protect homeowners if the builder dies, disappears or becomes insolvent before finishing the building work. It also covers defective work on a completed home for up to five years after completion.

The review will look into potential changes to BII, including what is covered by the insurance, the minimum thresholds, addressing gaps in consumer protection and whether the insurance limit of $150,000 is adequate.

Homeowners have been asked to share their experiences on YourSAy by March 25, 2024, with final recommendations expected to be put to the government in June.

Homeowners and industry have also been encouraged to register via YourSAy to express their interest in participating in a second round of interviews and workshops.

According to the government, total claims arising from the insolvencies of Qattro Built, Felmeri Homes and 7 Star Constructions are expected to reach a total of $30.5 million in 2023-24.

– Charlie Gilchrist

Call for reform to eliminate job switching obstacles

Recent research from the e61 Institute indicates a perplexing trend in the Australian labour market, where the rate of job switching for better pay remains surprisingly low despite a robust job market.

The study, led by e61 Senior Research Economist Aaron Wong, points to a variety of obstacles, including non-compete clauses, occupational licensing rules and soaring house prices, impeding workers from capitalizing on lucrative job opportunities. These barriers are especially pronounced in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite a historically strong labour market, the rate of job switching has only marginally increased from 8.5 per cent in 2019 to 9.5 per cent in 2023.

Wong suggests that this trend raises concerns about fundamental issues within the Australian labour market.

The e61 Institute’s findings show that workers who successfully switch jobs experience a significant nine percentage point wage increase, translating to an annual pay rise of approximately $5700 for the median wage earner.

The research also underscores the substantial advantages of job switching for younger workers under 34, who see an average annual pay increase of around $7500.

Disparities between urban and rural areas are also evident, with capital city workers benefiting from an average wage increase of $6300 compared to $4300 for their regional counterparts.

The institute’s CEO Michael Brennan said workplace laws are a potential barrier to job mobility, and cited concerns about non-compete clauses and complex occupational licensing requirements.

Wong said fostering demand-side factors and encouraging policies that promote entrepreneurship could enhance job matching and drive wage growth.

The research calls for reforms to empower workers to transition between employers seamlessly and for firms to actively compete for top talent, ultimately creating a more dynamic and innovative labour market.

– Jim Plouffe

University of Adelaide PhD candidate Jacob Long has received Wine Australia’s Dr Tony Jordan OAM Award 2024.

PhD candidate wins award for research focused on adapting winegrowing to a changing environment

University of Adelaide PhD candidate Jacob Long has received Wine Australia’s Dr Tony Jordan OAM Award 2024 for his research into using gene-editing techniques to increase grape and wine quality in warmer climates.

Long’s research will focus on optimising wine growing to respond to climate change by using new breeding technologies to develop climate-resilient grapevine varieties.

“My research intends to support and promote the Australian grape and wine community’s shift towards becoming a more sustainable sector and to support its adaptation to retain our high-quality standing in the market amidst continual environmental challenges,” he said.

“Using new breeding techniques will potentially enable winegrapes to be designed for specific wine styles to suit consumer desires – for example, reduced tannins – while allowing the newly developed cultivars to retain the status of a clone of the original variety.

“Importantly, due to the new breeding techniques utilised, cultivars produced through the project may not be considered Genetically Modified Organisms according to the Australian regulator.”

According to Wine Australia’s website, the Tony Jordan OAM Award is “an annual award for the most outstanding Wine Australia PhD scholarship applicant that will provide the recipient with a stipend of up to $40,000 annually to support their studies”.

– Charlie Gilchrist

1000 South Australian female business owners take part in a new government program

According to the state government, 1000 South Australian female business owners have saved more than $1 million following the introduction of the Women in Business Foundations program.

The $4 million program, which aims to help the more than 40 per cent of small business owners who are women, has a Foundation stream and an Advisory stream.

The Foundation stream is designed for women who are new to running a business and includes mentoring and small group workshops to develop women’s skills in business management, finance and accounting, marketing, digital technologies and cyber security.

Minister for Small and Family Business Andrea Michaels MP hailed women’s involvement in the program.

“That’s 1000 women with the skills to successfully start and run a new business and employ South Australians,” she said.

“We know how important small businesses are both to our communities and to our economy, contributing an incredible $49 billion each year.

– Charlie Gilchrist

Extra grants funding to tackle skills shortages

The state government will open a second round of skills grants – worth $1.78 million – to support projects that develop and deliver solutions that address skills shortages at industry, sector, and regional level.

It takes the total funding for the skills shortages grants to more than $4 million after the first round of grants saw $2.47 million awarded to various projects.

Education, Training and Skills Minister Blair Boyer said the first round delivered results in trades like bricklaying.

“We know that South Australia will need almost 90,500 vocational training qualifications over the next five years to meet the skills demand of the state’s industries,” he said.

“This grant program is just one of the ways we are collaborating with industries and training providers to deliver the services, programs and infrastructure to those critical areas.”

David Simmons

South Australian towns Tanunda and Coober Pedy were among the top ten towns this year.

Two SA towns in the top 10 holiday destinations for 2024

Two South Australian towns have made it into the top ten Australian towns in holiday booking website Wotif’s 2024 Town of Year Awards.

The Barossa Valley town of Tanunda claimed 6th place, while Coober Pedy came in at 10th.

The awards are given to regional towns with the best accommodation affordability, quality and traveller satisfaction based on data from Wotif.

This year’s top spot was claimed by Bendigo, followed by Broken Hill in second place and Stanthorpe in Queensland in third.

“As one in five (20%) Aussies are planning a trip during the upcoming Easter long weekend and over half (56%) plan on taking advantage of school holidays for local getaways, these awards provide the ultimate inspiration for those planning their travels for the year ahead,” said Sarah King, the head of public relations at Wotif’s parent company Expedia Group.

According to data from Wotif, 51 per cent of Australians plan to travel within the country this year.

Toolkit for hospitality employers hiring people with intellectual disabilities

Flinders University has released a toolkit with resources for small to medium hospitality enterprises aiming to improve workforce diversity and assist employers hiring people with intellectual disabilities.

Funded partly by the Endeavour Foundation Disability Research Fund, the toolkit was developed through consultation with hospitality businesses, disability employment service providers, and students and other people with intellectual disabilities.

Chief investigator Dr Ashokkumar Manoharan said challenges in employing people with intellectual disabilities often relate more to the preparedness of the employer rather than the job itself.

“Employing people with disabilities makes good business sense and, of course, people with intellectual disabilities have the right to be included in everyday life – in workplaces and the community,” he said.

“This project aims to stimulate demand for employment of people with intellectual disabilities in the hospitality SME sector while providing the structure to foster relationships to promote future employment opportunities.”

Manoharan said the toolkit would offer the hospitality industry “a means to adopt a more proactive, collective and strategic approach to address long-standing talent challenges”.

“By removing some of the barriers, SMEs which make up a large part of employment in hospitality can get in line with some of the larger organisation[s] which already successfully employ people with intellectual disability.”

-Isabella Kelly

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