Guide to open food and beverage doors

Wheatbelt Food and Beverage Capability Guide officially launched.

News
Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN) business manager Rachael Thomas (left) with WBN membership officer Angela Ryan.

Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN) business manager Rachael Thomas (left) with WBN membership officer Angela Ryan.

Aa

A new food and beverage guide includes details about individual businesses in the Wheatbelt and Central Coast.

Aa

AN ONLINE guide to connect Wheatbelt and Central Coast food and beverage suppliers with retailers, buyers, wholesalers, chefs, caterers, tourism operators, regional events and consumers was launched last Friday.

The Wheatbelt Food and Beverage Capability Guide, funded by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is a collaboration between the Department, Wheatbelt Development Commission (WDC) and Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN), as well as The Northern Growth Alliance, comprised of the Shires of Gingin, Chittering and Dandaragan.

The guide includes details about individual businesses in the Wheatbelt and Central Coast, including their product range, sales information, awards and certifications.

Held at Nesci Estate Wine Farm in Lower Chittering, the launch was attended by many of those businesses featured in the guide as well representatives from DPIRD, WDC, WBN, local shire representatives, with attendees also taking the opportunity to mingle and network with like-minded business owners.

DPIRD agribusiness food and trade executive director Susan Hall said even people that lived in the region didn't necessarily know about the diverse range of products that were available to them locally.

"The past 18 months particularly has really seen a surge of interest in locally produced food and beverage, so it's really timely to highlight the local producers in all of Western Australia's regions and connect people directly with them so they can source what they need from WA," Ms Hall said.

"Traditionally there has been a lot of focus on agriculture and production, and this was an opportunity to feature food and beverage manufacturers and producers with a consumer facing product to get our regional produce known."

With businesses able to opt in to be featured in the guide, Ms Hall said the content could be refreshed so that it remained relevant with updated information on all the businesses.

"We have already identified many more businesses who we will approach for the next round that either weren't able to get their details through in time, weren't yet branded or were newly emerging," Ms Hall.

"Beyond the guides we offer capability building, training, vouchers, incentives and support so get in touch with DPIRD."

Sean and Cathy Wood, who have been the owners of Stumpys Roadhouse in Brookton for the past 22 years, have their new business venture 'Hass Food' featured in the guide.

The business centres on the idea of adding vegetable powders to bread mixes to create a healthy alternative to normal bread.

"My wife worked in a specialty kitchen in PMH (Princess Margaret Hospital) for kids who couldn't tolerate certain foods and had to have special diets," Mr Wood said.

"She's been working in the food industry since 1983 and had lots of experience as a chef so she came up with the idea for the mixes so that people can make a loaf of bread that is going to be good for them."

Mr Wood said the idea had been in the planning for about five years and would be sold mostly online.

"We make the breads at the roadhouse and have been using them in some of the sandwiches so our customers can start trying them out," Mr Wood said.

Wheatbelt Business Network business manager Rachael Thomas said the organisation used its network of 300 members as well as other resources to identify local producers and offer them the opportunity to be featured in the guide.

"Because it was free there was also a bit of skepticism when we were contacting people," Ms Thomas said.

"I think a few businesses were also scared thinking 'I'm not a big producer, what if I get inundated?', so it was important to reassure those owners that this guide was not only for the public to be able to find local produce, but it was also to help showcase the diversity of food and beverage businesses in the Wheatbelt."

Agricultural Region MP Darren West, who officially launched the guide, said food and beverage manufacturing was the biggest area of growth in the manufacturing sector in Australia.

"For the 12 months up to 2019-2020 the sector grew by four per cent to almost $133 billion," Mr West said.

"That is about the value of the mining sector in WA, so it's big bikkies.

"The Wheatbelt sector provides an opportunity to add value to the product grown in the Wheatbelt as well as creating employment opportunities across the region.

"The Wheatbelt is rich in food and beverage stories, and I think they are even better than those from down around the Margaret River region."

The guide is divided into categories covering beverages, dairy, eggs, honey, grains and bakery fresh and value-added horticulture, meat as well as seafood and aquaculture.

Guides for the Mid West, Great Southern and the Kimberley regions are already available, with the Peel and Goldfields-Esperance regions also launched recently.

  • For copies of the Wheatbelt, Kimberley, Great Southern and Mid-West Food guides go to agric.wa.gov.au/capability- guides

Want weekly news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Farm Weekly newsletter.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by