What’s up, doc?

The Lamat­tina fam­ily’s gi­ant car­rot busi­ness

The Australian - The Deal - - Contents - STORY AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY NATHAN DYER

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.

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