Growing demand for home baking and cooking ingredients during COVID-19 has allowed a Darling Downs organic grain company to hire more staff and increase production to manage the home baking surge.
One of Australia’s leading organic grain processors, Kialla Pure Foods at Greenmount, hired six new people to help meet demand for products like flour as the nation moves to cooking at home.
Among them was a musician whose gigs were cancelled and a miner whose work had dried up, but all the new employees were redeployed after losing their jobs during COVID-19.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Kialla Pure Foods was one of 15 businesses in Queensland to receive a co-contribution Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $250,000 to improve their business under round one in 2019.
Mr Furner said the grant was used to upgrade their blending system by installing a new mixer and packaging system.
“The new infrastructure, which has only just been commissioned, allowed Kialla Pure Foods to meet new demand for at-home baking and cooking products,” he said.
“The new mixer allows for effective clean downs between runs allowing them to avoid cross contamination between products, which is highly important when working with organic materials – and it’s proven very handy during this period of changing consumer demand.”
Managing director Quentin Kennedy said orders started to increase in March and he had already seen a 300 per cent increase on previous fortnights.
“It was probably one or two weeks after the rush on flour in the main supermarkets that we started to see it move into our market in independents and health food stores,” Mr Kennedy said.
“We very quickly moved to ramp up production to catch up with demand.
“We wouldn’t have been able to handle it without the new equipment. We’ve got more capacity with the new infrastructure, we’ve been able to double capacity on mixing and wouldn’t have been able to keep up with demand without it.”
He said demand had increased for all products, including 50 different kinds of grains and flours.
“We’re in a lucky position because COVID-19 has brought the focus back to food and food production. For a long time people considered food as a given but this has changed their views,” Mr Kennedy said.
“With working from home we’ve seen a wave of home baking occurring and an increase in demand for flours.
“We’ve also seen a lift in the export side, which has driven demand and a fundamental shift in consumer value perception.”