Premium produce business TasFoods grows product offering and market to eastern seaboard

TASFOODS ENTERS GOAT MARKET: A tractor harvesting clover for the Robur Farm Goat Dairy herd in Sassafras.
TASFOODS ENTERS GOAT MARKET: A tractor harvesting clover for the Robur Farm Goat Dairy herd in Sassafras.

Launceston-based Tasmanian Food Co (TasFoods) has big growth plans after spending 2016 building its offering in the premium food market.

In the past year TasFoods has raised more than $25 million to add Nichols Poultry and Shima Wasabi to its suite of brands, relocate Meander Valley Dairy from Hillwood to Kings Meadows, launch Robur Farm Goat Dairy and build infrastructure for its expanded operation, CEO Jane Bennett said.

“Last year was a year of transition, acquisition and extension, and this year is one of growth,” Ms Bennett said.

This expanded umbrella company now includes the Kings Meadows processing facility, wasabi farm at Port Sorell and goat farm and chicken processing facility at Sassafras.

“We have a range of different businesses and wanted to build uniformity so we developed the Tasmanian Food Co,” she said.

Staff numbers have expanded too, with individual operations teams at each site and then shared services for finance, human resources, work, health and safety, quality assurance and sales and marketing.

The Robur Goat Dairy milk is now stocked in Tasmanian IGA and Woolworths supermarkets and the brand launched its spreadable chevre cheese – including a wasabi flavour – and hard goat cheddar, ‘Capreddar’.

“We see this as an increasing market. The goat milk has a lovely sweet taste to it and we are marketing it as a natural alternative to cow’s milk,” Ms Bennett said.

A second greenhouse will soon be planted with wasabi to be harvested next year, ensuring more fresh stems and powered product for restaurants and food services.

“We are doubling the size of our wasabi crop,” she said.

TasFoods has conducted extensive market research to understand its customer base and ensure it is growing the right areas of the business.

“Everything we do is at the premium end of the market. We want to understand where our consumers shop and eat so we can have products in those locations,” Ms Bennett said.

“We are looking to grow all our businesses; we see scalable opportunities for them.”

TasFoods is planning to launch its products to the retail market along the Australian eastern seaboard, which Ms Bennett hopes will benefit Tasmanian farmers and food producers alike.

“We are hoping to create opportunities for small Tasmanian food companies to piggyback [on TasFoods] and sell into the same markets,” she said.

Place of origin is a key definer, with consumers driving demand for Tasmanian produce.