The recent takeover of Thomas Foods International’s potato business and a spike in demand caused by the pandemic has cemented Mitolo Group as the Australia’s largest fresh spud producer.
The company, which is based in Adelaide Plains and has potato and onion farms in the Riverland and Mallee regions of the state, is reporting a 10 per cent increase in demand for its potatoes since the start of the pandemic in Australia.
It began harvesting its first new season potatoes in the last week of October but is now facing a worker shortage over the summer harvest due to a dwindling number of international backpackers in Australia following the closure of borders in March.
Mitolo is looking to fill 60-100 jobs across the Riverland, Mallee and Adelaide Plains in the coming months to coincide with harvest and has broadened its recruitment focus from backpackers to school leavers, the recently unemployed and university students looking for summer jobs.
Mitolo Group managing director Frank Mitolo said strategies to lure more workers included securing affordable accommodation for them and offering incentives for remaining backpackers to bring their friends.
“Getting enough accommodation at the right price is an issue so we are trying every angle at the moment as well as school leavers and people looking for summer jobs,” he told theleadsouthaustralia.com.au.
The family-owned company has about 700 staff in South Australia – about 150 on the farming side and a further 550 at its Virginia washing and packing plants. It also has about 100 workers at a brush potato farm in the state of New South Wales.