Capturing the Prize: the A$200 billion opportunity for Australia's food and agribusiness sector/ Enhanced Production and Value Addition / Protected cropping
Response to the rising concern around climate change, the use of chemicals in primary production, energy efficiency and food security by boosting production of horticultural crops within, under or sheltered by structures that provide modified growing conditions and/or protect against pests, diseases and adverse weather.
Stahmann Webster is a farm-to-table producer of world-class, Australian-grown walnuts, pecans, macadamias and almonds. From its roots more than 180 years ago, it has become the largest producer of Australian walnuts and the largest pecan operation in the southern hemisphere. Stahmann Webster’s tree nuts are now consumed globally, selling their products under the ‘Riverside All Australian’ label in major supermarkets across Australia, as well as packing their Australian-grown tree nuts for major retailers’ private labels in Australia and internationally.
It uses scientific insights to implement biological controls, including rotated cover crops, and has introduced natural insect predators and moulds to regulate pest populations. Its flagship pecan property near Moree in NSW has been pesticide-free for over 30 years.
This multi-million dollar business is at the forefront of the tree nut industry.
In recent years, with business guidance and collaboration, it has transitioned from a grower to a fully integrated agribusiness.
A strong relationship with advocacy organisation the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TBSE) has provided market information, support and a network of contacts, along with access to shared logistics resources, including freight services from Toowoomba to key markets.
Its work with CSIRO provided the scientific base for its progressive pecan crop management. Approximately 1,400 hectares of pecan farming employs a system of fertigation, enabling precise supply of both water and nutrients specific to each tree via the irrigation system and pumping station. Its own food science team monitors current global data around health benefits, processes, and allergy management, which - along with consumer trends - informs market requirements from a processing segregation perspective. In response to market demand, the company’s processing facilities are peanut-free - two of only a handful in Australia.
Steady investment in research and development has led to packaging design changes that open new doors from a retail perspective – from resealable packaging in the baking category through to development of a 20g macadamia pack suitable for airline catering.
By working with others, analysing each process in the chain and staying focused on continuous innovation, Stahmann Webster has earned its leading place in the industry.
This case study is from FIAL's 2022 edition of Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2022