Glasshouse Tomatoes

02/11/20 05:49 PM Comment(s) By FIAL

Flavorite | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2020

Challenge

Back in the 1980s, when Mark Millis decided he wanted to ‘put the taste back in tomatoes’, he started experimenting but suffered continual crop loss to rain and hail. He investigated field production alternatives — including hydroponics — and found commercial glasshouse growing wasn’t really an industry. He soon discovered the only way to learn was to be prepared to travel and ask plenty of questions.


Solution

That desire to find ‘a better way’ is still part of the fabric at Flavorite. Mark was joined by Warren Nichol in the 1990s and their legacy lives on in a company that has performed solid R&D, developed and adopted leading-edge technology and fostered robust workforce capability.

Flavorite controls the entire greenhouse environment (including irrigation) using automation technology, with an eye on robotics and AI for future improvements. Developing a strong international network comprising growers and cutting-edge technology partners has enabled Flavorite to remain at the forefront of the industry.

Mark’s son Chris grew up in the business, completing an Agriculture degree and settling in as Farm Manager. He has seen many of the innovations at Flavorite become industry standards, including hanging gutters and a hot water buffer system that pumps CO2 into greenhouses, enhancing plant growth.

Not satisfied with available off-the-shelf productivity measuring solutions, the company invested in development of its own and now measures every task business-wide to monitor performance and deliver accurate real-time operational data.


Outcome

The numbers tell the story; Flavorite enjoys an 80 kg yield per square metre versus the 3–5 kg from a field crop — a result achieved using just 18 litres of water compared with the 60–100 required for outdoor growing.

That’s not how the story ends, with Flavorite committed to continuous improvement and evolution — a philosophy that has taken it from cottage industry to major supermarket supplier, cementing its place as Australia’s premier grower and purveyor of vine-ripened produce and delivering industry recognition as Gippsland Agribusiness of the Year in 2019.

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