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Tasmanian Potato producer diversifies after buying Perfecta Produce

North-West Growth: Terrence Rattray at his Yum Tasmanian Gourmet Potato factory at East Devonport recently purchased Perfecta Produce diversifying into onions and cherries (Courtesy: Simon Sturzaker)

Innovative, specialist fresh potato producers Terrence and Wendy Rattray are diversifying after buying Perfecta Produce and further expanding the substantial agricultural business in the fertile North-West food bowl.

The Rattrays own Yum Tasmanian Gourmet Potatoes in the north east and North-West that supplies potatoes sold in Coles and Woolworths.

The Coastal expansion came five years ago, when the couple bought the empty carpet factory at East Devonport to convert into a spud processing plant employing 20 staff on-site and 12 in the field.

The Rattrays purchased major onion and cherry producer Perfecta Produce at Ulverstone in December with 80 hectares.

Perfecta employs seven full-time staff and 20 casuals.

Mr Rattray said he also bought a few farms at Kindred.

Terrence Rattray:
"We're keen to get our hands on as much of the best red dirt down here as we can."
However, Mr Rattray said when the agent first approached him two years ago to buy Perfecta, he wasn't initially keen on the idea and said no.

Terrence Rattray:
"We were not at all interested in growing onions or doing anything with cherries other than eating them."
However, at about the same time, Yum Tasmanian employed a full-time salesman to increase markets interstate who started "brokering" the onions of some of the smaller North-West growers to Yum Tasmanian's customers "to help a bit."

Terrence Rattray:
"When our customers ran out of onions, they wanted a year-round supply, and it became a no-brainer to us to enter the game, and we struck the deal to become cherry and onion producers."
Perfecta recently produced 6000 tonnes of onions a year.

Terrence Rattray:
"We'll add a couple of thousand tonnes to that for domestic sales."
The Broadby family, which sold Perfecta, retained the iconic Blue Banner Pickled Onions and Windows on Westella Cafe.

Mr Rattray said brothers Darren and Steve Broadby had stayed on at Perfecta since the sale.

The Rattrays have operated Anchor Farm in the north east since 1995 and, as the demand for their potatoes grew, the business took over the East Devonport factory in 2015 and bought a 380 ha farm near Devonport.

Mr Rattray said it was about getting closer to the port, investing in the rich red dirt and the North-West microclimate so suitable for vegetable growing.

Market forces drove Anchor Farm to grow organic and conventional potatoes.

The Rattrays also grow carrots for Sumich and rent land to Premium Fresh for broccoli.

Terrence Rattray:
"Since we started in 1995, we've continued to have 20 per cent growth a year. Everything about the facility at East Devonport was perfect for us, the location and the size."

"The lunchroom and toilet block is the same size as what our packing facility was at Pyengana, and it's great to have too much space under the roof. You can store all your empty bins inside."
Yum Tasmanian has always been an innovator bringing new spud varieties to the market such as its purple potato with its health benefits and another new one called Peruvian Gold that's about to go to market with almost orange flesh.

Mr Rattray said he would announce some "exciting staff developments" soon and in the next few weeks; he aimed to fill senior roles to help manage the North-West sites.
The Advocate