FARMVIEW Episode 5.2 transcript
Episode 5.2 - Value adding
Marilyn and Ian Lanyon
Simply Tomatoes, Boort
We used to grow about 400 acres of tomatoes, the processing tomatoes. It was just that time that the water shortage came on and we decided that the price of water for temporary water was so good there was more money in that than actually having to grow tomatoes. So that is what we did. We did that for a couple of years and then we came back into tomatoes when the price of water dropped.
While we were growing the processing tomatoes, I just love playing around with recipes and we had 400 acres of red and green tomatoes, and in the industry [Tiscali Rocky Devona 00:00:53], an Italian, said "why do you not make what mom used to make?" So I did and it took about 5 years and yes, just like mom used to make and the family and friends just love this green tomato product and anywhere I go, I could not find it. If people went overseas I would ask them to look even in Italy. So as the economics of growing for the factories was getting harder, I started to harp and say "I think we should be manufacturing this green tomato, let us have a look". Ian agreed and I went overseas with other horticulture ladies looking at value adding. So I really needed to know whether this was a good idea for other people and whether it was going to be viable. Then we worked our figures out and had a business plan done up and really looed into it seriously before we began. I think Simply Tomatoes just began because we thought it was a good idea. We had good research before we started and certainly the development has happened through assistance from family and friends, fellow manufacturers and right through the government. Right from federal to state to local government and it has been fabulous, the support that is out there and it is just a matter of tapping into these things and asking and getting around and finding it. Certainly we would not be where we are without the support that we have had through government assistance and the particularly the local government in Loddon Shire.
Before we started Marilyn could not even turn a computer on and so the technical part of all that and the IT is really something that we have learnt, and marketing we have got our export manager and took him on board and he helped in the marketing until such time that Marilyn learned from him and he always said that, didn't he, that "someday you will do this on your own" and that happened too. Now Marilyn is doing the export on her own.
Yes the marketing was an interesting thing. Once we had everything developed we started at farmers markets and took this product to farmers markets. It is a great starting point. People that go to farmers markets are very honest, they will look it and say "great packaging, it is a bit sour, it is too pricy or it is great" or whatever. We only grow 1 acre now. Burse is 400 acres, so I guess the value adding is doing something that Ian knows well, is growing tomatoes, it is less work. Instead of getting around 11 cents a kilogram, we are getting into the high dollar kilos and up around $40 per kilogram. So I guess this is one of the advantages of value adding and from the value adding of making this product, we have increased from the one product and got quite a range because customers are wanting not just one product. So the value add has grown and from that opportunities have come by and we have purchased Aussie Wool Quilts and that has created two tourist attractions instead of one. People were coming and now we have two attractions as they come onto the property and they just love it. Don't they? They love the whole long farm experience, don't they?
When you have got the time and you need it, you persevere and you keep going. I mean there are times when, if I was Marilyn, I would have given up, but she has kept at it. The thing is to do not give up, but to keep going.
Take small steps, but think deep – is my motto.
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