Mushrooms to be exported from new production plant at Adelaide’s former Holden site
More than five years after the lights were switched off at Adelaide’s Holden plant, the site is now poised to become another manufacturing and export powerhouse.
Key points: A $110 million facility is being used to produce 20,000 tonnes of raw mushrooms and mushroom products a year Once fully operational, it is expected to employ 350 workers, including former Holden staff. The SA government said the site would become the country’s ‘exotic mushroom capital’
But instead of sedans and station wagons, it’s thousands of tons of mushrooms that will start rolling off the production line.
A new $110 million facility will transform the former automotive hub into what the SA government has described as the “exotic mushroom capital of Australia”, run by local producer Epicurean Food Group.
The site will supply produce to supermarkets and restaurants, but will also have an on-site laboratory and commercial kitchen to turn second-rate mushrooms into vegan products such as burger patties.
“We start with white oyster mushrooms, then we go to shiitake, enoki and king oyster,” said Kenneth King, CEO of Epicurean Food Group.
Six growing rooms will start producing 20 tonnes of mushrooms per week from the end of February, before the output rises to an estimated 20,000 tonnes of raw mushrooms and mushroom products per year.
“When I’m done here, with the property I’ve taken on, I’ll be producing about 600 tonnes of mushrooms a week,” Mr King said.
“[We want to] introduce a lot of the population to the product, bring it to the menu, bring it to their daily consumption, because they are very healthy.
“But also, we add value — we make burgers and balls and sausages, crumbles, meals, and that gives us the ability to freeze it and export it.”
Local producer Epicurean Food Group says its products are destined for restaurants, supermarket shelves and export. (Provided: SA Government)
A current workforce of 37 full-time employees – which includes ex-Holden workers – is expected to expand to around 350 over the next 15 months.
“I’ve got a number of ex-Holden people and they’re great workers. They’ve been very well received,” he said.
Mr King said the farm would be the largest of its kind nationally by the time it is completed, which is expected to be around mid-2024.
“This will be the only truly professional-style exotic mushroom farm in the country. There are many others, but no one has ever gone to the extent that I have,” he said.
“In Australia … the industry has never had the ability to grow 52 weeks of the year, so we’re looking for strong growth based on the fact that we can supply right across the spectrum.
“It’s a very developed farm, it’s very high-tech. It costs money to build, but you get a result.”
During its heyday as a Holden hub, the Elizabeth site produced cars for the domestic market and for export. (Credit: Stewart Underwood)
Trade and Investment Minister Nick Champion said the mushroom farm joined other businesses on the site, including a home battery producer and fuel depot.
“South Australia already accounts for around 17 per cent of Australia’s mushroom production and this will help push that figure up,” he said.
“It creates a very good supply chain, not only mushroom supply in supermarkets and the like, but also in high-end restaurants.”
The site will include purpose-built grow rooms with columns up to 13 meters high, and Mr King said there were other flow-on effects, including environmental ones.
“It’s a very circular business,” he said.
“We take a waste product from the barley farmers and the wheat farmers, we bring it here, we turn it into a high-value substrate, we then send it back into the system via a green digester and we make green energy.”
It is five years since this aerial photo of Holden workers was taken on the last day of car production. (Supplied: Holden)