What’s up, doc?
The Lamattina family’s giant carrot business
STARTING WITH JUST 200 HECTARES of land close to the Murray River back in 1991, Rocky Lamattina and Sons has become Australia’s largest carrot producer, supplying more than 600 tonnes of carrots a week to the country’s fresh food markets.
The family-owned company’s 16,000sq m Wemen plant, in northwest Victoria, processes 1000 tonnes a week and ships pre-packaged, bagged and boxed carrots to Coles stores and wholesale markets across the country. Blemished produce goes through the company’s juicing plant, with carrot juice concentrate exported to Asia.
The company’s fleet of black B-double Kenworths, splashed with the motto “Australia’s FavouriteCarrots”, travelsmore than3,000,000km each year, delivering to Sydney and Melbourne
six days a week, and Brisbane five days a week.
The growing enthusiasm of Australian consumers for carrots haspushedupthe industry’s annual production by 65 per cent to more than $215 million, according to the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Carrots are also Australia’s biggest vegetable export, a business worth more than $51m a year.
Lamattina’s chief executive, Angelo Lamattina, says establishing year-round growing capacity has been key to the family’s success. In winter, carrots are grown at the company’s 2400ha Wemen property, 100km southeast of Mildura, and in summer at its 2400ha Kaniva property, 110km northwest of Horsham. In 2001, the Lamattinas established Adelaide-based Wing Flexible Packaging to combat unreliable plastic packaging supplies. Wing now supplies produce and ice bags throughout Australia.
Innovation has also spread to the paddock, where natural soil fumigation methods are preferred over chemicals. And customers can taste the difference. “We’ve been told by a lot of people our product always tastes sweeter and without any bitterness, and we believe the waywe grow them with the least amount of chemicals is a big part of that,” says Lamattina.
Run by Rocky and sons Angelo, Phillip and John, the business has come a long way since
Rocky andKathy Lamattinamovedwith their five
children from Melbourne to Wemen in 1991. “In
the first 12-month cycle we grew about 60 acres [24ha] of carrots; that’s what we would do now in about a week and a half,” Angelo Lamattina says.
The company employs 200 people, with 90 of those directly involved in farming.