Almond Grove Poultry, Murray Bridge increases turkey production

John Holland got a phone call at 3pm on a Friday: could he get some 10-kilo dressed turkeys to the airport as soon as possible?

He was in Murray Bridge, Mr Holland said, it would be difficult.

Could he pay someone $100 to drive them down?

The small-scale turkey producer eventually agreed to go to the airport early the next morning.

The birds he handed over wound up being served in a high-end New York restaurant around Thanksgiving, when there was a shortage of free-range turkey; the chef reportedly said they were the best he had ever eaten.

Mr Holland and his wife Deb put 1.8 tonnes of turkey on a plane a week later.

That has been the nature of the growth of Almond Grove, from a boutique egg-producing outfit to an increasingly diverse turkey operation: rapid and unlikely.

The enterprise was the result of a seachange for Mr Holland, who had previously worked in health insurance but did not want to move his young family to Sydney or Melbourne for the sake of his career.

Now they produce about 5000 turkeys per year.

"Beef and lamb have gone through the roof and people are looking for an alternative," he said.

"Chicken has been done to death.

"This (financial) year we've sent $100,000 worth of product."

So far, the Hollands have focused on the restaurant trade in Adelaide and interstate.

Now they plan a new line of products: turkey bacon, turkey pepperoni, turkey sausages and turkey chorizos.

People are looking for an alternative. Chicken has been done. - John Holland

They have developed them with three award-winning South Australian butchers: Cimarosti Bros, Balhannah Junction Meats and the Mount Pleasant Butcher.

In the past 12 months they have invested in a freezer, a refrigerated van, a forklift and more.

A $19,400 business transformation voucher from the state government will help them get over the line by contributing to the cost of a vacuum-packer, a labelling machine and feeders.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher visited Almond Grove on Saturday to taste some of the pepperoni for himself.

"Almond Grove Poultry is a great example of a South Australian food manufacturing company looking to innovate and build on their successes to increase their revenue, which will in turn provide benefits to the region," he said.

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