Strength in numbers for alliance

Stronger collective: Rivapak Onions director Gordon McKerlie believes the formation of the Murraylands Food Alliance will better the entire region.
Stronger collective: Rivapak Onions director Gordon McKerlie believes the formation of the Murraylands Food Alliance will better the entire region.

TEN of the Murraylands' major food growers have teamed up to lift the image of the region, improve business and create jobs.

Known as the Murraylands Food Alliance, the group is set to engage with universities and researchers, look into transport opportunities and logistics and workforce development, as well as, developing new forms of energy and reducing environmental footprints, both independently and collectively.

Member of the Murraylands Food Alliance and Rivapak Onions director Gordon McKerlie said the alliance would benefit the entire region.

"It's to see if we can improve things such as training, education, infrastructure...we're looking ahead, we want to know where we're going in the future to get the infrastructure in place," he said.

"We just think if we work together for a common goal it will be better.

"We'll attract more business if we're set up to cater for it."

The alliance, founded by Regional Development Australia (RDA), is part of the State Government's $2.7 million Food and Wine Co-Innovation clusters pilot program, which included the Murraylands, Riverland and Limestone Coast regions selected to take part in the trial.

The group - including Thomas Foods International, Adelaide Mushrooms, Coorong Angus Beef, Inghams, Swanport Harvest, Coonalpyn Olives, Big River Pork, Parilla Premium Potatoes and Oakville Potatoes - had technically formed prior to the Government announcing the program and funding.

Cluster programs have been recognised as an effective way to stimulate economic growth as local businesses, government agencies and academic institutions work together to become more collaborative, productive and globally competitive.

Murraylands and Riverland RDA chief executive Brenton Lewis said the food cluster programs were good news for the region.

"I believe a lot of our food production companies fly under the radar and don't get the respect they deserve," he said.

"We grow 50 per cent of the State's grapes and we're a major, major producer of the State's foods.

"This region has a lot to offer, a lot happening and it's good that the Government has recognised this and given us a reasonable initial crack at it."

Mr Lewis signed a 12-month contract on Thursday for $70,000 worth of funding and it is hoped there at least another year's funding would be made available.

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