D’Orsogna looks beyond pork to delicious future
May 27, 2019
Words by Jenne Brammer, The West Australian
Saturday 25 May 2019
The WA iconic brand D’Orsogna is considering a move into vegetarian products, snack foods and pre-prepared meals, as it looks to meet the changing face of retail and food service.
D’Orsogna managing director Brad Thomason said the family-owned group — celebrating 70 years since starting out as a one-man butcher shop — could also move beyond its traditional pork-focused, Italian-themed manufactured food range to incorporate other types of meats.
“We are essentially all pork-based now, but that could be widened in the future as the market changes. It could be beef, lamb and even down the road into prepared food and snacks,” he said.
Mr Thomason said investigations centred on the changing face of supermarkets, with smaller outlets appearing in higher density areas, to appeal to convenience or grab-and-go shoppers.
“The way the public is buying is changing and that necessitates us to review and change what we offer, and we are working through that strategically,” he said.
“This is not imminent in terms of the next year or two, but investigations are being made as part of our next strategic plan.”
Mr Thomason, who joined the company from George Weston Foods in 2000, is retiring from D’Orsogna in June after 19 years with the company and a lifetime in the industry.
He will become a non-executive director on the D’Orsogna board and would consider other board roles, where he feels he can offer experience in manufacturing, retail markets, production, business expansion and team building.
At D’Orsogna, Mr Thomason will be succeeded by Greig Smith, who joined the company a year ago from Ingham’sChicken.
Looking back at almost two decades with D’Orsogna, Mr Thomason said the main change had centred on strong growth, in the company, a highlight being the recent opening of premises in the Merrifield Business Park in the Melbourne suburb of Donnybrook, which consolidated the company’s national distribution footprint.
“When I started, we distributed products only in WA and the Nullarbor was a barrier to moving product across Australia,’ he said.
“That ceased when supermarkets went national and as transport improved.”
D’Orsogna opened smaller premises at Mt Waverley, Melbourne, a decade ago but growth necessitated the opening this year of bigger premises at Merrifield. The two will be amalgamated at Merrifield over coming months and products will be distributed into all States.
The Palmyra premises employ more than 500 people and Merrifield, once amalgamated with Mt Waverley, will have 120 to 130 staff, with intentions to grow further.
Palmyra will remain the head office and there are no plans to slim down WA operations, Mr Thomason said.
In terms of pork, most locally sourced meat comes from WA’s biggest producer Westpork, of which the D’Orsogna family is a major shareholder.
But because of the different cuts needed to supply its product range, Mr Thomason said it also bought from other areas and producers, and imported meat.
The volume of imports compared with local pork is about 50:50 or up to 60:40, depending on the pull at the time and available local product. Imports come from Canada, America and Europe (Denmark and Holland).
Though Australia produces plenty of pigs and the industry recently faced oversupply issues, there is uneven demand for the various cuts, which is why D’Orsogna imports from eastern Australia and overseas to balance its requirements, Mr Thomason said.
“If you look for example at eye bacon, on which there has been a big rush in the past decade, Australia hasn’t the ability to supply all the loin pork meat which is required to make this type of bacon,” Mr Thomason said.
“So really, the growth in pork meat products has necessitated us to go out and supplement our supply with meat from elsewhere. If Australia was able to be self-sufficient it would be easier, but that’s simply not the case.”
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