Nunga Produce – produce partnership, RIG News – August 2012
Story from RIG News – August 2012
Enterprise – New route to wholesale markets for small growers
The Matjarra brand launched by Nunga Produce
I recently had a call from an agricultural extension officer in WA for funding and other advice to assist an Indigenous family based micro-enterprise who want to grow herbs to sell to Nunga Produce. Ron Newchurch, a partner in Nunga Produce, had been in touch with RIG two or more years ago. A lot has happened since then to grow good things. The official launch of the Matjarra brand in July, highlights opportunities that Nunga Produce is creating for small growers – opportunities they welcome other small and micro enterprises to explore with them.
Nunga Produce collectively markets products grown by Aboriginal growers in regional South Australia through the Adelaide Produce Market and has undergone rapid expansion since its inception in 2005. Nunga Produce is a business that encourages private Aboriginal farmers to produce herbs and bunch lines on their own land. The business provides the wholesaling, distribution and marketing wherewithal to coordinate and enable small producers to efficiently access the wholesale market and be collectively marketed under the Matjarra branding.
“When people buy Matjarra products, they are supporting Aboriginal enterprise, Aboriginal employment and the future support of Aboriginal employment, training and enterprising. We are committed to Aboriginal growers developing self-sustaining enterprises. This is a unique project that encourages private Aboriginal farmers to embark on producing herbs, bunch lines and chillies on their own land for their own financial benefit,” Ron Newchurch says.
The business is a “50/50” partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals whose families are directly involved in the production and sale of fresh produce to commercial customers. Ron Newchurch is the General Manager of Nunga Produce. He and his family run a successful farm enterprise (Bookyana) at Port Victoria on the York Peninsula and produce mainly herb lines along with some bush food products. Juliet Giangregorio and Nigel Tripodi, husband and wife partners in Nunga Produce with responsibilities for Sales/Distribution and Production, have worked in the fresh produce production and wholesaling business for more than seventeen years.
The partners had known and worked together for almost a decade, before formalizing the partnership some two years ago to pursue their shared vision of working together to help Aboriginal growers to become self sustaining enterprises.
Juliet’s family own and operate Rainbow Fresh, a large salad production and wholesaling Adelaide business, that has well established inter-state freight arrangements, logistical expertise and commercial relationships in place. Nunga Produce draws on Juliet’s professional experience in the wholesale business and has access to all important wholesaling and distribution infrastructures, contacts and expertise. According to Juliet, this means Nunga Produce can provide sustainable avenues for small and micro growers – people who might only grow for a few months of the year – to efficiently access commercial markets, rather than rely on sales to local stores or markets.
The business partners with growers and provides support and mentoring to small and micro growers to help them build the skills and capacity to produce product that can meet the quality requirements of the commercial market.
The Adelaide Produce Market is the State’s distribution and marketing centre for fresh fruit and vegetables. The commercial wholesale market sees over 250,000 tonnes of local fresh fruit and vegetables trade between growers, wholesalers and retailers each year, worth an estimated wholesale value of $750 million.
According to Juliet, Nunga Produce distributes some 10 000 bunches per week to wholesale customers such as restaurants, fruit and veg stores and supermarkets.
Ron believes the project is delivering strong outcomes. Up to 25 people have so far been employed as a result of this project, with their herbs, bunch lines and chillies now made available at greengrocers, IGA stores and Foodland supermarkets under the Matjarra brand. Employment is expected to rise with increased demand for the product.
Nunga Produce currently works with Aboriginal growers in Port Lincoln, Mount Gambier, Ceduna and Port Victoria and has been approached by farms in Western Australia and northern Queensland.
Nunga Produce believe they have in place the networks, freight arrangements and other strategies to appropriately assess and address the logistical challenges often posed by connecting remote and regional growers to commercial markets. Indeed, sourcing off season produce and different lines from inter-state is quite common in the mainstream wholesale produce market and Nunga Produce are keen to work with Aboriginal growers to source off season produce and new lines from areas outside of South Australia.
To learn more, visit the Matjarra website: http://matjarra.com.au/ where you can also find the contact details for Ron, Juliet and Nigel.
With thanks to Ron and Juliet for speaking with me for this story and for the photos and permission to use them. Anthea
Pictured: Above – Nunga Produce business partners Mr Ron Newchurch, General Manager Nunga Produce (centre), with husband and wife business partners Nigel Tripodi and Juliet Giangregorio. Below – Some of the Matjarra brand product lines that are available from Nunga Produce.