Opportunities to supply high quality produce directly to leading restaurants and retailers were highlighted to around 120 local producers who attended the Macleay Valley Food Bowl Showcase Dinner at Kempsey RSL on July 23rd.
Keynote speakers, Italian/Australian chef Stefano Manfredi, and Oliver’s Fresh Food franchise founder, Jason Gunn, delivered praise, inspiration and insight as they detailed the kinds of produce they were keen to source from local producers.
Keynote Speaker, Stefano Manfredi
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Beans were high on the Oliver’s produce wish list, as was edamame, oranges, watermelons, rocket, baby spinach, mesculin mix, avocado and more.
Special Guest: Jason Gunn, Founder Olivers Fresh Food
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As part of the official proceedings, Mayor Cr Liz Campbell officially launched the Macleay Valley Investment Guide, describing the event as a significant milestone for Council’s Macleay Valley Food Bowl Agribusiness Project.
“Tonight brings Macleay Valley producers together with some of our country’s most successful food industry leaders,” she said.
“Like all business operators in today’s competitive, global world, our producers are looking for ways to work smarter, rather than harder, to find higher value crops, ways to value add and to penetrate reliable markets.”
Numerous high profile food industry professionals attended the event, including the Daily Telegraph’s Food Editor Grant Jones and journalist Samantha Townsend, former Masterchef contestant and Conjurup business owner, Anna-Jane ‘AJ’ Dalton, Straight to the Source business owner Tawnya Bahr, and food writer Dane Richards from Gault Miault International Food Guide.
Organic Marketing Company investor Rocco Musolino also used the event as an opportunity to announce plans to open a major organics distribution centre at the new Farrawell’s Industrial Park, adjacent to the South Kempsey Highway Service Centre in 2016.
Macleay Valley producers representing a broad range of local agribusiness sectors, including beef, dairy, horticulture, vegetables, organics, poultry and rabbit production attended the event to not only draw inspiration from the speakers, but to showcase their produce as part of an exclusively ‘made in the Macleay’ 6-course menu developed by Head Chef Lloyd Newell.
Macleay Valley Food Bowl project manager and Council’s Manager, Economic Sustainability Susannah Smith confirmed many contacts and business arrangements were strengthened on the night.
Producers said that the event worked for them on all levels, including making valuable contact and supply opportunities with food industry leaders,” Ms Smith said.
“The is exactly the type of outcome the Food Bowl project has set out to deliver and our producers have provided Council with support, engagement and interest in acting upon the commercial opportunities we know are out there.”
Ms Smith confirmed the agribusiness project would continue to be a major focus of Council’s economic development effort over the next 12 months.