Local Investment Diversifies Sustainable Manufacturing

Local Investment Diversifies Sustainable Manufacturing

To bring even more all-Australian products and projects to market, a capital works program nearing completion at the world-class Shoalhaven Starches site, is driving innovation to steer sustainable growth and job-creation.

“We remain dedicated to a strong future for an all-Australian, diversified advanced manufacturing industry,” said Manildra Group Managing Director John Honan.

“Focused on value-adding and leveraging our innate strengths in industry-leading innovation, these projects represent the single-largest investment in Manildra Group‘s history.”

Mr Honan said continuous reinvestment was fundamental to Shoalhaven Starches’ ongoing growth and shared success in partnership with our local employees, farmers, regional communities, and industries.

“We’re committed to the most innovative technologies and industrial processes at our world-class, regional Australian sites – driving innovation and sustainability through our leading research and development,” he said.

Overseeing the 18-month program of capital works across the 55-hectare site at Nowra, on the New South Wales south coast, Shoalhaven Starches Site Manager Tertius Jones leads teams across various fields, while guaranteeing round-the-clock production of all-Australian premium products.

“It’s a really exciting time to be part of Manildra Group, where we prioritise investment in Australian-grown and made,” said Mr Jones.

“With the continual investments underpinning our commitment to create more sustainable, high-value jobs – including opportunities for upskilling in training and development – our people remain at the heart of our business.”

Mr Jones said the latest capital works program had created more than 900 jobs during construction and sustained more than 420 green-collar advanced manufacturing jobs in fields including engineering, maintenance, sales, information technology, chemistry, trades and more.

Projects set for completion in 2023-2024 will bring Manildra Group’s Australian workforce to more than 1100 people, alongside thousands of jobs indirectly in transport, exports, agricultural industries and more.

“This investment ensures Manildra Group can continue leading the way in modernising operations through diversifying and boosting our production and range, as well as increasing demand for raw materials delivered to the site, including high-quality grains and flours produced at our flour mills,” said Mr Jones.

“It paves the way for further diversification of our wheat-based products and greater innovation in our closed-loop, zero-waste manufacturing process.”

Mr Honan said when Manildra Group set out on the $200 million cogeneration project to eliminate coal from the supply chain and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 per cent, “there wasn’t a playbook or roadmap for us to follow, but we were committed to finding a solution and cementing our position as a leader in clean energy infrastructure”.

“Continued innovation and investment is critical to ensuring we can meet our nation’s net-zero carbon commitment by 2050, as well as continuing to build Australia’s modern manufacturing capabilities and the future of Australian-made products,” said Mr Honan.

“We remain grateful for the support and dedication of our people, whose passion and pride continues to make a huge difference to our shared success.”

Mr Honan also acknowledged our Australian and global customers’ growing appetite for premium Australian-grown and sustainably made products for driving Manildra Group’s continuous manufacturing excellence.

Manildra Playground Activating Community

Manildra Playground Activating Community

An all-ages fun and fitness hub is bringing together the central west New South Wales community of Manildra, where Manildra Group’s flagship flour mill has operated round-the-clock since 1952.

Funded by Manildra Group, the modern playground precinct at Montana Park in the heart of the quaint township of 800, has been bustling since completion the week before Christmas.

Manildra Flour Mill Manager John Gorringe said, “the new playground will provide space for imagination, games and play for many years to come”.

Mr Gorringe said the project was designed to “provide hours of healthy entertainment for children of all ages and abilities – and those of us who are still young at heart”.

Mother-of-two and Manildra Flour Mill Export Coordinator, Ashley Gosper, said the enjoyment for 160 local youngsters encouraged daily exercise for physical fitness, motor skill development, and family entertainment that fostered a sense of community.

Since being officially opened by Manildra District Improvement Association Committee Member Sue Reynolds at the end of 2022, the modern Moduplay equipment has seen plenty of action beside the picnic and skate park areas, not far from the town pool and both primary schools.

In addition to the traditional carousel and a net swing are a stainless-steel flying fox that soars more than 25 metres through the air, a two-metre-tall climbing wall to test the stamina and courage of young climbers, and spring rockers for strengthening the grip of smaller starters.

“With fast-moving action to keep children and adults of any age fit, many families are gathering to work out together and allow the kids to release some energy in fun and healthy play,” said Ms Reynolds.

Mr Gorringe said the century-old mill foregrounded Manildra Group’s commitment to sustainable rural communities and regional industries, in partnership with Australian farming families and generations of workers, as the central west region’s largest private employer.

“We’re building pride and a sense of ownership in a place we can all come together to have fun and enjoy everything Manildra has to offer,” Mr Gorringe said.

Spirit of Sustainability from Grain to Glass

Spirit of Sustainability from Grain to Glass

Crafting premium Australian grain neutral spirits with an environmental legacy front-of-mind, Manildra Group has been acknowledged for sustainability at the Global Supplier Awards for international alcohol distributor Diageo.

After topping Diageo’s Asia-Pacific regional awards field in 2022, Manildra Group Head of Ethanol Debbie Forster said the annual Global Grain-to-Glass award reflected an unwavering commitment to the purest grain neutral spirits at the heart of our zero-waste manufacturing processes.

“Our success depends on the people and planet around us – so we’re absolutely committed to making our supply chain more sustainable while having positive environmental and social impacts,” said Ms Forster of the closed-loop processes that underpin our world-class distillery at Nowra, on the New South Wales south coast.

Ms Forster said it was an honour for Manildra Group’s efforts to be globally recognised by Diageo, through our supply of consistently pure grain neutral spirits as the base for top-shelf and ready-to-drink blends.

“Our teams work round-the-clock to produce the highest quality products for our customers, and sustainability is intrinsic to how we do that,” she said.

“We’re more connected than ever before to our people, environment, communities, and stakeholders.

“Our commitment to sustainable development in manufacturing extends from reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent to achieving optimal environmental excellence in the supply chain.”

Manildra Group was named the annual Spirit of Progress winner among regional and international contributors at Diageo’s Asia Pacific awards, for pioneering grain-to-glass sustainability, before being bestowed top honours in Diageo’s global awards to 11 partners across 10 key categories.

The new Spirit of Progress Grain to Glass sustainability award further recognised the “resilience and dedication of Diageo’s partners to our business – driving value through outstanding quality, innovation and service – alongside incredible collaboration and leadership”, said Diageo Chief Procurement Officer Janelle Orozco.

Ms Orozco said supply partners such as Manildra Group were fundamental to consistent quality for increasingly discerning consumers.

“These relationships remain critical as we continue to deliver our Society 2030: Spirit of Progress Plan,” she said of Diageo’s three-pronged strategy for pioneering grain-to-glass sustainability, championing inclusion and diversity, and promoting discerned consumption.

Ms Forster said Manildra Group’s continuous reinvestment and world-class innovation exemplified Diageo’s Spirit of Progress strategy of “using natural resources efficiently across the whole value chain to foster sustainable industries and communities – from the farmers who grow our ingredients to our employees and consumers”.

Manildra Group, like Diageo, works to positively impact the communities in which we operate and protect the natural resources on which we all depend – to make sure we’re doing business the right way, from grain-to-glass,” she said.

“For our business to be sustainable, it needs to create enduring value and we are humbled to be recognised by Diageo for setting the industry benchmark in pioneering sustainable practices to protect the environment.”

In Australia, the world’s highest-selling vodka and gin and Diageo’s ready-to-drink range of alcoholic beverages, are made with Manildra Group’s premium grain neutral spirits sustainably produced from 100 per cent GMO-free Australian wheat.

Ms Forster acknowledged all the farming families, employees, suppliers, partners, customers, and rural communities whose everyday work helped to make grain neutral spirit production more sustainable.

Manildra Group has also been recognised as global pioneers in sustainable ethanol production with international Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterial certification maintained through environmental, social, and economic principles and criteria.

Master Milling at the Heart of The Healthy Baker

Master Milling at the Heart of The Healthy Baker

With an Australian flour milling legacy spanning more than seven-decades, Manildra Group’s The Healthy Baker range of flours gives home bakers industry-quality bakery products at pantry-sized convenience.

Home to our retail range The Healthy Baker, in the quaint township of rural Manildra in central west New South Wales, Manildra Flour Mill stands surrounded by golden wheat fields on the banks of the
Mandagery Creek, as the birthplace of Manildra Group in 1952.

For more than 70 years, Manildra Group’s Gem of the West brand has been trusted by the professional baking industry for superior quality, strength, and purity.

To broaden access to home bakers nationwide, The Healthy Baker retail brand was launched in the mid-2000s, said Manildra Group Director Caroline Honan.

“Available to the home baker, our unbleached and triple-sifted signature flours are renowned for their quality, texture and impeccable consistency to elevate every bake,” said Ms Honan of the retail brand’s bold shift into innovative blends to revolutionise the supermarket baking aisle.

We know how important flour is to baking – impacting flavour, structure, texture, and even nutritional value,” she said of The Healthy Baker range of flours fortified with nutrition-boosting vitamins –such as calcium and folate – in another Australian-first.

Underpinning the family-owned company’s firm belief in “food you can feel good about” is an unwavering commitment to sustainably sourcing the highest-quality GMO-free Australian wheat.

In addition to milling flours for some of the world’s highest-profile brands, Ms Honan said The Healthy Baker retail range guaranteed home bakers a difference they could taste, from a brand they could always rely on.

“Whether you prefer to use a stand mixer or knead by hand, our flours excel in every bake – providing a lighter texture to sponges, extra-crunch to choc-chip biscuits, golden-crust and airy crumb to loaves,” she said.

Manildra Flour Mill Manager, John Gorringe said attention to detail is paramount for the team of 220 on-site workers in fields spanning flour milling and baking to engineering and chemistry, sales and transport, quality and exports, safety and maintenance, cleaning, packing and more.

“Our Australian-owned, grown and made flours meet the strictest milling tolerances for ash and mixing performance, with a carefully calibrated protein content,” said Mr Gorringe.

Leading quality assurance, Manager Nerida Thomson’s team of skilled Laboratory Technicians perform tests with “laser focused precision” at the mill’s innovative and modern qualitycontrol laboratory.

“Our flours undergo round-the-clock rigorous testing through every stage of the milling process – from wheat to flour and dough right through to the final loaf,” Ms Thomson said.

Further benefiting from one of Australia’s most advanced on-site test bakeries, Manildra Group’s team of highly skilled master bakers, food technologists, and scientists test-bake flour batches at the conclusion of the milling process.

Mr Gorringe said that the test bakery team is methodical and meticulous when it comes to flour characteristics and the milling process.

“A bake test will always tell you how the flour will perform,” said Mr Gorringe of our rigorous standard formula and baking procedure for doughs, to deliver flawless consistency in the final test-baked loaf.

“Once the loaves come out of the oven and have cooled, our technical baking team measures the height and assesses colour, crust, texture, crumb structure, and smell.

“From the humble loaf to the golden crust of a warm cherry pie or mastering the perfectly risen scone, we believe your flour must be right for the job every time you bake.”

At the Manildra mill’s state-of-the-art packaging facility, The Healthy Baker flours stand out in their innovative containers – with their resealable, reusable, and easy-to-grip packaging “key to the brand’s success as a top-seller”, said Ms Honan.

Guaranteeing fresher flour for optimum baking quality and shelf-life, the containers often found new purposes, said Ms Honan, from cosmetics and crafts to toys, plants and herbs, pantry staples and more.

Plump Piglets Bank of Triple-Free-Range Food

Plump Piglets Bank of Triple-Free-Range Food

Pairing premium pork and fine wine is a farm-to-fork win-win at the Stein family’s award-winning vineyard of almost 50 years, in the Mudgee district of central west New South Wales.

On more than 240 hectares with panoramic views at Eastwood, the remains of grape marc from winemaking are fed to the farm’s mix of free-range Berkshire pigs and breeder Angus cattle, which join Dorper sheep to graze on native grasses and clear weeds from 15 hectares under vines for the Robert Stein Winery.

During drought, the bespoke diet with a ration of highly palatable and nutrient-dense Dried Distillers Grains and Syrups (DDG-S) Wheat Pellets, enabled about 200 of the farm’s pigs and breeder and weaner cattle to be retained despite widespread destocking, Chief Winemaker Jacob Stein told The Cultivator.

“We did still need to mix in hay, because there was minimal grass at the time, but I think the supplementary feed was probably the difference between us being able to hold on to our cattle,” said Mr Stein, whose grandparents Bob and Lorna planted less than one hectare of shiraz grapes in 1976.

The vines – dating back to 1838 – remain the forefront of the Robert Stein Winery, while the cornerstone mixed farming operation features another 40 hectares currently under oats, wheat and lucerne.

But the pigs have been really hamming it up – stealing the spotlight from the Steins’ lauded rosé and white wines to take centre-stage atop tables in some of Australia’s most renowned restaurants, where chefs célèbre stake their reputations on selection of locally fresh premium produce.

“We have had great success feeding our free-range Berkshire swine the Manildra Stockfeed DDG-S Wheat Pellets,” said Mr Stein of the performance pasture supplement rationed to sows and their piglets, as well as boars, since the 2018 drought.

“Remarkably, we have not required any medications or antibiotics for the pigs, since feeding them DDG-S Wheat Pellets.”

An exceptional source of balanced nutrition, the energy-boosting pellets are formulated to balance starch, protein, and other carbohydrates enhancing growth.

Manildra Stockfeed Southern Division Manager Andrew Lloyd said the Berkshires “would have to be some of the happiest and healthiest pigs you can find – bred well and, of course, fed well with our nutritious DDG-S Wheat Pellet, while roaming freely around the vineyards feeding on forage, native grasses and grape marc”.

“And that means mouth-watering free-range pork products that are also importantly antibiotic-free and hormone free, to carry a full range of flavours from tender smoked hams and streaky bacon to full-bodied salamis and second-to-none prosciutto,” Mr Lloyd said.

Sold domestically and internationally to delis, restaurants and wholesalers, the smallgoods’ reputation for ultimate tenderness and bursting flavours in every bite, reflected the skilled hands of Mr Stein’s holistic approach to sustainable, free-range farming practices, Mr Lloyd added.

Mr Stein credited Montecatini Smallgoods Deli for the delectable pork products from his free-range Berkshires cooked and cured locally.

He said the boars’ one-kilogram daily sustenance ration of Manildra Stockfeed DDG-S Wheat Pellets was doubled for sows, to improve milk volume consistency and quality in protein and fat content, for weaner health and growth.

He recommended introducing 100 grams of DDG-S Wheat Pellets daily at three weeks of age with creep-feeding and troughs, for weaning at six-to eight weeks.

On-site tastings and door sales of the Steins’ winning wines and premium pork combinations are available at their Pipeclay Pumphouse Restaurant, followed by a stroll around the property’s vintage motorcycle display.

For details on the fill range of Manildra Stockfeed products, contact our specialist sales team on 02 4423 8300 or stockfeed@manildra.com.au

Sara Lee: Dessert Masters for Sweet Success

Sara Lee: Dessert Masters for Sweet Success

There is a lot in a name.

And there can be no greater endorsement for a commitment to quality and authenticity, than naming your company after a much-loved family member.

When Charles Lubin named his first product – the original Sara Lee cream cheesecake – after his eight-year-old daughter more than 85 years ago: “He wanted every product he made to be as beautiful and perfect as her,” said Sara Lee Head of Marketing and Innovation, Jo Matthews, of the brand’s classic cheesecake with its silky, creamy filling on a golden biscuit base.

“We sell millions of our most-loved desserts every year and want to ensure they’re the best quality – every single time they are served,” Ms Matthews told The Cultivator.

“This keeps our founder Charles Lubin’s dream alive.” Synonymous with quality, Sara Lee remains a trusted Australian family favourite for desserts that “taste like home” – from pies and crumbles to puddings and danishes, cakes and ice-creams, frozen and baked cheesecakes, semifreddo and more.

Opened in 1971 on a twenty-hectare orange orchard, Sara Lee is still proudly operated out of their original bakehouse in the New South Wales central coast town of Lisarow.

“Walking through our factory is just like walking through an enormous baker’s kitchen,” Ms Matthews said.

“We take pride in baking home-made desserts and delivering them at a grand scale at the very highest quality to our consumers – making it easy for them to always have a delicious locally-made sweet treat ready to serve for any occasion, without any of the fuss.”

To ensure impeccable consistency for delectable desserts, Sara Lee continues to bake daily at the renowned Lisarow bakehouse – always using local-fresh premium ingredients wherever possible – to supply retailers nationwide.

“We rely on the consistent quality of the Manildra Group’s ingredients to create millions of delicious products every year, so it’s important for us to continue to nurture and grow this partnership,” Ms Matthews said.

Working together with generations of farming families to supply Sara Lee for more than 25 years, Manildra Group’s flours and sugars are used in a range of croissants, muffins, cheesecakes, and bavarians.

For further enhancing flavour and texture, Manildra Group’s glucose is a key ingredient in Sara Lee’s danishes, cakes, cheesecakes, and bavarians.

“Working together on new products, flavours and formats, we always look local first for our ingredients, so we can continue to support Australian farmers and to sweeten regional life,” said Ms Matthews.

In turn, she said, was a rich appreciation of Sara Lee’s “something for everyone” approach to crafting desserts true to authentically traditional roots, while offering contemporary twists with exciting new products.

“In everything we do, we stay true to who we are – a brand that produces delicious desserts locally, using only the freshest and highest-quality ingredients available,” said Ms Matthews.

“We are also committed to staying on top of consumer trends,” she added in reference to the recent collaboration for Baileys Irish Cream-inspired chocolate pudding and baked cheesecake dessert, and the launch of the decadent Snack Cookie Pies.

McCain Foods sold Sara Lee to New Zealand investment firm, The South Island Office Limited in 2021, to grow their celebrated range of frozen baked goods and desserts.

Manildra Group New South Wales Sales Manager Barry Bance said Sara Lee had “pushed sweet boundaries” and evoked childhood memories with more than 85 years at the forefront of the dessert industry.

“Our lives have all been made that little bit sweeter with Sara Lee,” said Mr Bance in recalling the “moreish” banana cake dished up for his Sunday desserts as a child – and relaunched last year to public demand.

“From the Sara Lee kitchen at Lisarow into our family homes, the enticing dessert range is entirely a labour of love – inspired, crafted, and created by real bakers and pastry chefs in the heart of regional New South Wales,” said Mr Bance.

“Sara Lee’s dessert range ensures our nation can emulate the finesse of fine dining at home, with impressive treats for every taste and preference.”

Mr Bance said Manildra Group’s proud partnership with the “frozen dessert queen” and “iconic game changing brand” nurtured innovation, quality, and authenticity, as core to more than a quarter-century of collaboration.

Staples Sustain Food Relief Partnership

Staples Sustain Food Relief Partnership

Helping Foodbank to source more than 82 million kilograms of food and groceries in 2022, Manildra Group is celebrating a 25-year partnership with Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation.

With more than two million households facing food insecurity at some time last year, according to the
2022 Hunger Report by Foodbank, General Manager National Supply Chain Michael Davidson said increasingly more Australians were reaching out for help amid the cost-of-living crisis and devastating natural disasters.

A constant, reliable and sustainable supply of flour guaranteed “a vital staple which forms the foundation of so many nourishing and nutritious meals”, said Mr Davidson of Manildra Group’s annual donation of 350 tonnes of flour toward Foodbank’s Collaborative Supply Program.

Setting the benchmark for collaborative food partnerships, manufacturers and suppliers produce key pantry staples and supply services at minimal or no cost, from production through to processing, packaging, and transportation.

Manildra Group’s Australian-grown-and-made flour, sugar and oils provide for among the most fundamental pantry staples in the collaborative effort to manufacture Rinoldi pasta and Leggo’s Napoletana Sauce with Simplot.

In 2022, Foodbank provided more than 82 million meals – equating to 225,000 meals a day for vulnerable Australians – including pantry staples, fresh fruit and vegetables, personal and pet care and household products, and emergency hampers for disaster relief and ongoing recovery.

Manildra Group General Manager Peter Simpson said the increasing number of Australians struggling to put food on the table meant Foodbank’s vital work supported people at a critical point of need.

“Over the years, we’ve seen communities rally together during challenging times and show how, when we each contribute a little good, it can all add up to make a big impact,” said Mr Simpson.

“As a family-owned Australian business for more than 70 years, Manildra Group looks forward to another quarter-century of supporting Foodbank to make a real difference by providing sustainable nourishing and hearty meals.”

Home Grown Exports Nourishing India’s Appetite

Home Grown Exports Nourishing India’s Appetite

The rising global population and the growing issue of food insecurity have led to a surge in demand for sustainable sources of nutrition in the world’s most populous nation.

Outnumbering 26 million Australians by more than five-to-one, India’s headcount of 1.43 billion outranked China for the lion’s share of the planet’s population surpassing eight billion in 2022-2023, according to United Nations data.

By 2050, global protein requirements are projected to double as our population swells by another two billion – or tenfold in just 250 years.

As demand for protein continues to expand around global dietary requirements and evolve with consumer awareness, Manildra Group’s premium vital wheat gluten, wheat protein isolates, and starches have been introduced to India’s dynamic market, through diversifying trade partnerships with the world’s largest democracy and fifth-largest market.

“Many Indian consumers perceive Australia’s products as safe and reliably available,” Manildra Group General Manager Peter Simpson told The Cultivator. 

“Manildra Group have an expanding customer base with Indian businesses and consumers and those relationships continue to grow,” said Mr Simpson.

“As fundamental building blocks for food and industrial applications, there are great value-adding opportunities to supply Manildra Group’s premium all-Australian ingredients to Indian manufacturers, processors, wholesalers and retailers.”

Backed by Manildra Group’s established global reputation as “consistent exporters day-in-and-out”, unrivalled quality and exceptional customer service remain core to our family-owned company’s commitment to bring the finest Australian ingredients to the world table.

Overseeing our sales, operations and business development in India, Manildra Group Asia Sales Manager (Food Ingredients), Liew Wang Shiang, said opportunities to provide real value in emerging industries and markets ranged from our vital wheat glutens for aquaculture feed and pet food production, to wheat starches for paper, pulp and packaging manufacturers, as well as modified proteins for plant-based meat processors, and grain neutral spirits for alcohol manufacturers.

“There are huge prospects for our range of value-added sustainable ingredients, with Manildra Group’s global reputation for superior-quality products, reliability in building strong customer relationships, responsiveness to customer needs, and adaptability to evolving market demands,” Ms Liew said.

Driving India’s appetite for plant-based proteins, together with increasing consumer awareness of plant-based protein benefits versus animal protein drawbacks, are the Asia-Pacific’s highest number of vegetarians – at one-quarter of the Indian population, alongside another one-in-five strictly vegan or pescatarian consumers.

With India’s trend toward protein-enriched, plant-based diets, Ms Liew said value-adding Australian native and modified glutens and starches “sourced from our clean-and-green country’s pesticide residue-free, GMO-free wheat”, were also crucially Halal and Kosher certified – “ticking all the boxes for today’s consumers”.

“Globally, changes in diets and consumer awareness have increased the demand for ingredients that are clean-label, keto-friendly, low GI, plant-based, soy-free and dairy-free – ranging from egg alternatives and plant-based meats, to on-the-go protein snacks and dairy protein bioactives and replacements, for sports performance and muscle maintenance.”

Ms Liew said the unique amino acid profile and exceptional protein levels of Manildra Group’s premium 100 per cent Australian modified proteins, were key to muscle growth and enhancing nutrition across India’s population – including more than 40 per cent aged younger than 25 years, with a median age of 28 a decade younger than China’s, reports the United Nations.

“Our vital wheat gluten and modified proteins also have less odour, consistent quality from a single crop per year, and are very light in colour as the ideal ingredient for baked goods, drinks and shakes used in pharmacies, hospitals and aged care, and as a digestion or absorption aid,” said Ms Liew.

The nutritional benefits of Manildra Group’s value-added Australian vital wheat gluten extended further into protein-packed pet food, said Ms Liew, amid the growing demand for premium, healthy and sustainable nutrition free of artificial colours and flavours, to aid the health and wellbeing of pets, numbering an estimated 30 million in India.

Ms Liew said Australian vital wheat gluten also held huge potential as a key sustainable ingredient in aquaculture feeds for the world’s largest shrimp export market, accounting for about one-quarter of global supply, while India’s domestic seafood consumption comprised little more than one-tenth of Indians’ animal protein intake.

Farmed Fish for a Blue Revolution

Farmed Fish for a Blue Revolution

Despite nearly 90 per cent of Australians living within 50 kilometres of coastline, seafood imports accounted for more than 60 per cent of the 350, 000 tonnes consumed domestically in 2021.

According to government data, an average Australian consumes almost 14 kilograms of seafood annually – in comparison to 19 kilograms of beef and 40 kilograms of chicken.

Global demand for proteins is tipped to double with the planet’s population projected to balloon another two billion by 2050. Australia’s own population is forecast to double in fewer than 50 years – framing the need to secure our future food supplies while remaining competitive in global markets.

“Internationally, Australia is renowned as a world-class producer of the highest quality, safe and sustainable seafood,” said Manildra Group Export Sales Manager Adam Armstrong of the domestic aquaculture sector’s more recent expansion to include finfish such as barramundi and kingfish.

As volumes of wild-caught seafood are increasingly replaced by production of farmed salmonids, prawns, abalone and tuna, Australian aquaculture has sustainably diversified into an industry worth $2.29 billion in 2022-23.

“With the world hungry for sustainable, diversified sources of edible protein, a thriving aquaculture industry can help support this demand at home and abroad,” said Mr Armstrong.

Globally, aquaculture has been the fastest-growing food production sector since the 1950s – doubling production every decade, with an average annual growth rate of seven per cent outstripping human population growth (0.5 per cent) and food production on land (two per cent).

“To achieve improved quality of farmed fish through balanced nutrition for sustainable growth, fish feed plays a crucial role in modern aquaculture and Australian vital wheat gluten is a key ingredient in a range of fish feeds used by the world’s leading and largest aquaculture companies,” said Mr Armstrong.

Innovations in nutrition and fish feed development over the past four decades, through the elimination of unsustainable ingredients including fish meal and oil (made from smaller wild-caught or farmed stock), have been critical to best-practice modernisation globally.

As fish farms steadily overtake wild-caught as Australia’s predominant seafood production source – with more than 40 species now commercially produced – Mr Armstrong said there had also been a shift away from fish-derived feeds in exchange for sustainable plant-based protein sources such as vital wheat gluten.

Enabling nutritional balance and digestibility requirements to be tailored to species and developmental periods, the advancement of dry pelletised fish feeds formulated with Manildra Group’s all-Australian vital wheat gluten, delivered “a high protein content and incredible source of amino acids, to reduce antibiotic use for healthier, quality seafood”, said Mr Armstrong.

“Pelletised fish feed is integral to the taste, texture, and nutritional value of cultured fish, and our vital wheat gluten is a fundamental ingredient in these feed formulations.

“Demonstrated to improve farming yields, vital wheat gluten’s exceptional binding and palatability properties encourage fish to fully consume formulated feeds before dissolving.

Prompt consumption means more of the feed and its nutritional benefits are converted to the fish with less loss to the environment, and water conditions are improved.”

With increasing consumer demand for foods and beverages made with more sustainable protein sources such as vital wheat gluten, there is significant growth potential for seafood produced through aquaculture as a major source of sustainable protein, in an alternative to wild-caught fish.

Initially exporting to the Taiwanese prawn industry in 1985 and supplying the Tasmanian salmon industry from the late-1980s., Manildra Group vital wheat gluten exports have expanded into Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

Mr Simpson told The Cultivator of “remarkable” future growth opportunities in the South American salmon, trout and cod industries for Manildra Group’s Australian-grown and made vital wheat gluten – “long-prized as an optimal protein-boosting ingredient” in fish feed formulations to enhance health and nutrition – in addition to global product development innovations “such as using sustainably-grown vegetable oils in exchange for fish oils in feed formulations”.

“Today, our vital wheat gluten is an integral ingredient in tailored fish feed formulations for domestic and global markets ranging from salmon and barramundi to rainbow trout, prawns and more,” Mr Simpson said.

Producers Who Inspire: The Blacker Family

Producers Who Inspire: The Blacker Family

Family is at the heart of the Blacker farm nestled in the Lake Cargelligo-Hillston-Wallanthery heartland of central west New South Wales.

On more than 26,000 acres of mixed cropping and beef property operated by four generations of Blackers since the early-1980s, Robert and Vickie are joined by sons Andrew and Steve with wife Emily and children Molly, 2, and Billy, 4, all helping to keep the family legacy burning brightly.

“We grew up on the property and love the lifestyle,” Steve Blacker said of managing day-to-day operations alongside his brother and father also guiding their next generation.

It’s second nature for us and even though my son Billy is only four, he is mad about the farm. “I can certainly see him carrying on the farming legacy.”

While it will be a few years before young Billy is calling the shots, in the meantime he’s certainly witness to what it takes to build a successful farming dynasty.

“It’s a real family operation,” Mr Blacker told The Cultivator.

“With recent weather events and post-COVID, when it has been hard to find stable, reliable contractors, we’ve found most importantly that we all work really well together as a family.

“No two days or harvests are the same … my best advice is that you will never know everything.

“There is always something to learn and gain and the worst thing a farmer can do is just not listen to people.

“You always need to be up for a chat – whether it’s with the farmer next door, an agronomist, the grain receival operator, or the truck driver moving crops.”

Overlooking paddocks springing anew with lush-green wheat, Mr Blacker paused to reflect on the time of year of which he is most fond.

“There is nothing better than planting,” he said. “The weather is kinder, and you can take the time to enjoy the process.

“The harvest is also magical and while it is a lot of work, you get to see the fruits of your labour – and
that is so rewarding.”

Depending on the year and season, the family’s mixed beef cattle and cropping operation plants more than 4500 acres of Australian Prime Hard wheat and this year, about 800 acres of oats.

“We’re seeking the highest protein content and hoping for a stellar season but of course, you can never predict what will happen,” Mr Blacker cautioned in the wake of a record-breaking year of flooding.

Last year, we had around 300 millimetres of rain in October, but we were lucky not to be as impacted as other farmers.

“Located on the Lachlan River, we were blocked off partially, which led us to store more grain on-farm.”

Recent events precipitated a shift in the family’s farming strategy toward more investment in on-farm storage including silos, irrigation systems, and maintaining nutritious soil health.

“We’re reinvesting and modernising our current operations as opposed to property expansion,” said Mr Blacker.

“We’re looking to set up our own bunker and grain shed to allow us to sell grain continually throughout the year and take advantage of better prices.

“And we practise crop-rotation between wheat, oats, lucerne and a clover mix, with rest periods in between – which helps nitrogen fixation in the soils to create diversity in our fields and maintain a strong topsoil, reducing run-off in wetter seasons.”

The high-protein wheat grown by the Blackers is largely processed at Manildra Group’s world-class wheat gluten and starch site in Nowra, on the New South Wales south coast, with remaining wheat railed to our Narrandera Flour Mill.

“We choose to work with Manildra Group as we love to support Aussie family-owned businesses and greatly value what they do with us, for us and for regional Australia,” Mr Blacker said.

After working with “the close-knit Blacker family for many harvests now”, Manildra Group Head Grain Buyer Peter Sloan said it was “always a pleasure when their grains arrive on-site – delivering first-class wheat consistently and always up for a chat”.

“The Blackers’ proximity to Manildra Group’s Grong Grong grain storage site also makes it easy to transport and distribute their wheat to our regionally based manufacturing facilities,” added Mr Sloan.

To contact Manildra Group’s wheat grain specialists, phone 1300 MANILDRA.