Image: Jim and Katherine Maitland, at their Clare farm – Anama Park. Image supplied.
The development of a paddock to plate brand has been a steady success for one South Australian farming family, and the welcome addition of a supply agreement with Virgin Australia presents a new opportunity for their premium food business.
Launched in 2011, the creation of Pangkarra Foods was a way for the Maitland family to diversify their operations from a standard grain-growing model and take more control of value chain opportunities.
Managed by Katherine and Jim Maitland, and Jim’s parents – David and Margot, the business operates from Anama Park – a 2,300-hectare farm growing grains, pulses and export hay, located in the Clare Valley.
Initially, the enterprise produced a line of premium, wholegrain pastas, using durum wheat grown on farm and processed in Adelaide. Product branding focussed on developing a reputation as a wholesome, healthy pasta – features which derive directly from protecting the integrity of the grain through traditional processing methods, including stone milling.
In 2016, Pankgarra added ready-to-eat chickpeas and a snack food line to their mix, capitalising on increasing demand for healthy alternatives and pulse products.
After 12-months of discussions and negotiations, Pangkarra Foods has recently secured a deal to supply ready-to-eat 25g snack packs for passengers on board Virgin Airlines domestic flights.
While the initial sale of 250,000 units has provided a welcome income boost, being able to build brand awareness with Virgin customers doubles as an attractive opportunity for Pangkarra.
“We are thrilled to be working with Virgin Australia in supplying the Pangkarra Roasted Chickpeas and Roasted Bean Mix to Virgin Australia passengers,” said Katherine Maitland.
“With such a captive audience eating and enjoying our products, the exposure and recognition of our brand is invaluable.”
According to Mrs Maitland, it’s a deal that’s already paying off for the business.
“In the domestic market, the promotional advantages with working with airlines helps sales in the retail shops. Since we have secured the Virgin Australia deal, we have had numerous enquiries from customers who have tried our pulses on the inflight menu, and as such, have sourced the product in their local IGA or Foodland.”
“We hope to build on potential wholesale opportunities, including working with some of the major supermarket chains. We also plan to grow our export markets, particularly in South East Asia, China and America.”
Despite the success of Pangkarra Foods, the Maitland’s see the enterprise as a ‘side business’ – albeit a valuable one – to their fifth generation family farming enterprise.
“Rather than having all our eggs in one basket…we have endeavoured to find other ways to sell to the market. By having a value-add business, we now have more appreciation of what we are growing, that is, we are growing food to consumer, rather than a commodity.”