Straight to the Source for Big Aussie Brands

Straight to the Source for Big Aussie Brands | The Cultivator Spring 2020

Straight to the Source for Big Aussie Brands

Simplot Australia’s range of high-quality and well-known food brands can be found in all major supermarkets and they are one of the largest suppliers to the foodservice industry. They are the last remaining provider of Australian-grown frozen and shelf stable vegetables of any scale nationwide.

Sourcing locally grown product for Australian manufacturing operations, Simplot in turn supplies thousands of food service customers and retail outlets across the country.

Finger and snack foods, main meal components, seafood, potato, frozen vegetables and desserts are among more than 300 products in Simplot’s food service range – including household names enjoyed by generations of Australians.

“We take great pride in having market-leading, iconic Australian brands including Birds Eye, Leggo’s, John West, Edgell, Raguletto, Chicken Tonight, Five Brothers, I&J, Five Tastes, Chiko, Ally, Harvest and Seakist,” said Graham Dugdale, Managing Director Simplot Australia.

“So it is important for us to source Australian-grown and we’re proud to work with over 300 potato and vegetable growers, many of whom we have worked alongside for generations.

“We are committed to supporting the long-term viability of our farmers and source about 450,000 tonnes of potatoes and vegetables each year from Australian growers, playing a vital role in delivering locally grown produce to Australian consumers.”

Mr Dugdale said, “it’s also important to us to source Australian-made ingredients through Manildra Group such as flour for the Leggo’s pasta range, Chiko Rolls and Birds Eye crumbed products; Australian-grown and made sugars for Leggo’s sauce and canned vegetable range; and canola oil for Simplot’s food service customers and potato chips.”

As an essential industry with a role to play in “feeding Australia” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Simplot understand the importance of customer satisfaction as well as supporting the broader community.

From an ethos of “contributing to feed our world” through working with organisations such as Foodbank Australia and Secondbite, to ensuring the health and safety of Simplot employees and a focus on the continuity of operations has been crucial to meeting heightened requirements.

“Like so many other food and grocery suppliers, we initially experienced an increased demand from retail customers as a result of the initial panic-buying by the community,” said Mr Dugdale.

“In the grocery sector, we saw a significant uplift in demand for our products, including frozen and canned vegetables, as consumers stocked up on long-life essential groceries.”

With demand initially well-exceeding original forecasts, Simplot worked closely with customers to address supply.

“Conversely, our food service business has been impacted as a result of restaurants, caterers, pubs and clubs, and sporting stadiums being required to reduce service or close.

“As a result, we have been adaptive in tailoring our product range to the needs of our customers – for example, launching our Edgell Supa Crunch Delivery Chip designed specifically to withstand the pressures of the delivery market by maintaining its heat and crunch for up to 40 minutes, which has been paramount in recent months with the increase in demand for takeaway and delivery channels.”

Since 1995 – following an expansion Down Under of the J.R. Simplot Company, established as a one-man farming operation in the United States in 1929 – Simplot Australia has acquired iconic brands including Birds Eye, Leggo’s, Chiko, John West and Edgell. Simplot Australia employs more than 2,000 people across Australia and New Zealand; and operates six manufacturing facilities that supply chilled, frozen and shelf stable products to the nations’ retailers and food service customers.

As one of Australia’s largest buyers of canola oil, Simplot has also partnered with Manildra Group partner MSM Milling to source the locally grown and produced canola oil that is a key ingredient in the par-frying process for potato chips’ fluffy interior and crisp exterior.

“Our customers definitely see a high value in Australian-sourced and grown food,” said Mr Dugdale.

“There is a real understanding that Australian-grown and produced food represents high-quality standards. Also, they want to support Australian farmers, communities and businesses. They know that Simplot and our brands represent these values.”

Manildra Group Managing Director John Honan acknowledged Simplot’s vision and success in becoming a global food manufacturing leader while keeping quality close at heart.

“Our own family business is built on sustainable regional Australian communities and reinvestment in our manufacturing facilities, so we share Simplot’s pride in continuing to source locally grown products where we can and maintaining Australian manufacturing operations,” said Mr Honan.

Mr Dugdale said Simplot Australia has been working with Manildra Group for over 10 years and this relationship helps to ensure “our products are produced with the finest ingredients.”

“It is through long-standing partnerships such as these that we can continue to provide the products our consumers have come to love and trust,” he said.