LaManna Premier Group CEO Anthony Di Pietro has been featured in the AgJournal of the Australian publication Weekly Times, which visited the company's Lancaster Farms greenhouse tomato growing operations. During Covid, LaManna battled to get the massive amounts of fruit and vegetables it grows on its own farms across Australia.
“My grandparents (Vince and Caterina) were vegetable growers in Buronga (near Mildura) on the banks of the Murray; it’s where my dad, Joe, grew up,” says Di Pietro. “One of his four sisters drowned in the Murray when she was just 16; then, in 1956 my grandparents’ farm was wiped out by floods.” They never recovered from that.
“To this day, if I have a bad day or week in the business, I can’t go and cry on Dad’s shoulder, because he just says that it’s when you see your glasshouse washing down the main street of Mildura, then you know you’ve got a problem.”
Di Pietro has dealt with all the challenges thrown up by the pandemic in the same sanguine way. “You just have to get on with it, work out your priorities and deal with the problems one by one,” he says. “But it has been a continual rolling challenge. Of course, the health and safety of everyone in our business and their families was our first priority, but then it was about business continuity and making sure our doors stayed open.
“If a company like ours shut down, it would have a major impact on the supply chain and many people and communities; we grow and supply around 20% of all bananas in Australia and a big portion of the red round loose gourmet tomatoes that you see in every supermarket trolley, as well as have a critical role in the wholesale markets. We can’t just shut up shop."