Growing Goodness

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-By Aleisha Parr

In 1911, The Angas Park Fruit Company entered the market with a small fruit packing shed nestled into South Australia’s renowned Barossa Valley. A century later and Angas Park is still going strong, providing to the world each year over six thousand tonnes of produce from over three hundred and fifty growers of the highest quality of Australian sun-dried fruit. With over twenty per cent of the market share, Angas Park is a market leader.

The process of fruit growing can be arduous even in the best of times, but with all of Australia’s recent difficulties including and especially those related to its weather, it is a risky business to be involved in. Now, with the strength of the Australian Dollar, exporting has become challenging as well, which is having a definite effect on the dried fruit industry.

Peter Manning, Angas Park General Manager Operations, explains: “There are probably only two or three parties that do the same sort of thing that we do in all of Australia whereas years ago every reasonable sized town had co-operative fruit processors. We’ve been around for a hundred years now though, and it’s by innovation and the fact that we have a very strong and reputable brand that we’ve been able to survive.”

Angas Park has been able to grow that brand, says Mr Manning, due to its dual focus on quality and innovation. Australia is naturally an ideal setting for growing clean and pure products, with its strict environmental regulations and an abundance of untouched Greenfield regions. “Australia has a reputation for being clean and green. I think it’s just the Australian way; that’s how it is.”

“One of the things we focus on within the site is in working very closely with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) as far as water discharge and clean-up. We capture all of our wastewater from the site storing process water in our dam where we aerate it and then we actually use it to water our tree lot. So all of our water is contained, cleaned onsite, and then used to irrigate part of our property.”

Aside from its focus on environmental control, Angas Park also undertakes strict quality control measures to ensure that only the quality product reaches its customers. “It’s all about product quality and consumer safety.”

The company uses the latest technology including a colour sorter, Laser scanners and X-ray unit. This sorting process ensures that only the freshest and highest quality fruits are used in every Angas Park product.

“Technology continues to improve each year,” says Mr Manning. “Programmes are regularly upgraded; we always evaluate the benefits of any upgrades as each generation tends to improve and it becomes more user-friendly, so the machine interface with the operator keeps improving all the time. Dried fruit is a very labour intensive industry, and it’s still labour intensive but this type of technology has assisted in reducing reliance on personnel for all inspection, and it’s now a mixture of technology and personnel inspection of product.”

In such a labour intensive industry, it is essential to have skilled, reliable workers to support the products for continued market success. Angas Park’s employees are trained and reliable; they are also committed and passionate about the company’s products.

With a total workforce of one hundred and twenty, with approximately seventy five of those permanent and the balance casual, the predominantly female workforce (including some senior onsite managers including the Operational Manager, Transport Manager and the Quality Assurance Manager) is comprised of mostly locals from within few kilometres of Angas Park’s operations.

What is truly exceptional is the duration of time many workers have stayed with the company. For a recent article celebrating Angas Park’s Centennial, five employees were interviewed at random, each boasting a history with the company of forty-six years, forty-three years, and three with thirty years service. Overall, Mr Manning estimates that fifty per cent of all of its workers have been with the company for more than ten years. He credits the company’s ‘open door policy’ as the reason why so many employees choose to stay on with Angas Park.

“They’re good people, and we have an open door policy. It’s a pretty simple philosophy: if there’s a problem then we say let’s talk about it and fix it. It’s as simple as that.”

This approachable attitude translates into the company’s long-standing reputation for being a trusted quality brand. The company and its philosophy assist all employees in promoting the company’s products outside of its national food chain promotions.

Angas Park has two retail shops, one in the company’s original location in Angaston, and one in Irymple in Victoria’s North-West Sunraysia District. Through these two locations, Angas Park endeavours to provide not only its premium products for purchase but also offers daily product sampling. Angas Park’s most popular products continue to be its prunes – which Mr Manning says are a standout product for the company in terms of quality and taste – as well as apricots, peaches, and pears. The company has also responded to recent consumer interest by offering various fruit salads and medleys as well as convenient gift boxes and hampers for any occasion.

Alongside its own products, Angas Park further delights in featuring products which are of a complementary nature from other local producers, especially in niche markets such as gourmet chocolates and dips – always a pleasant addition to fruit!

With so many great attributes matched with a stellar commitment to quality standards and a rich century-long history within the industry, it’s no wonder that Angas Park has persisted in Australia, and it’s no doubt that in the next century to come, we will see it continue to grow and develop in overseas markets, sharing with the world a little taste of Australian goodness.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:41 AM AEDT