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Thomas Foods sells to Mitolo as meat and potatoes go separate ways

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Mitolo Family Farms will strengthen its grip on Australia’s potato industry following an agreement to purchase Thomas Foods International’s fresh potato business.

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The deal announced today between the two South Australian family-owned companies came about after Mitolo Family Farms managing director Frank Mitolo approached TFI CEO Darren Thomas about selling the potato business several months ago.

The sale is still subject to ACCC approval.

South Australia grows 80 per cent of the nation’s potatoes with Mitolo among its biggest players.

The TFI potato operation and Mitolo Family Farms are both based in Virginia, north of Adelaide.

Mitolo said the acquisition was an opportunity to increase capacity and business continuity for packing and grading fresh produce in the Virginia region and to future-proof the business through additional farming and water assets.

“It underpins our commitment to quality and reliability of supply to all consumers through our valued retail and wholesale partners and enables us to achieve best practices in farming and technology in our pursuit of excellence,” he said.

“This acquisition will deliver substantial benefits to all consumers and our commercial partners through increased efficiencies as well as our ongoing commitment to the highest level of quality and service.”

TFI, Australia’s largest 100 per cent family-owned meat processing company, purchased potato producer Mondello Farms after the Virginia-based business went into administration in 2013 and has since grown the business under its Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce company division.

Thomas said the sale would allow TFI to focus on its core meat business, including the rebuilding of its main Murray Bridge factory, which was destroyed by fire in January 2018.

“We’re proud of what TFI Fresh Produce has achieved over the past seven years with potatoes, reviving a business and rebuilding it into a profitable major industry player,” he said.

“By utilising the TFI group’s global sales network, TFI Fresh Produce has built a substantial export business for potatoes and other related produce.

“It’s now timely to divest these potato interests and focus on our group’s core local, national and global operations where we see exciting growth prospects including potential future acquisitions, the rebuild of the Murray Bridge meat processing plant and other produce opportunities.

“We know the Mitolo family well and are comfortable that the potato business will be in safe hands.”

Founded in 1972, the Mitolo Group is a leading integrated potato and onion growing and packing company with sites located across the Riverland, Mallee and Adelaide Plains.

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