March 2010

The  community of Bayles is  home to a  successful business with international reach.  WOF members visited the food drying plant established  by the Scalzo family.  The factory was developed over 15 years ago in  original dairy premises.  However, now there is an array of equipment for spray drying liquids, roasting nuts, cooking and drying meats, and blending various seed mixes for the bread industry.

The Scalzo brothers, of Italian origin, found a market niche with their food drying industry which reportedly has few competitors in Australia. Cashews from Vietnam and whole linseed from Canada are among the imported foods to which the Scalzo processes add value.  Many of the dried products, especially the meat extractive powder, go off shore for instant noodles, mainly to  Korea and Malaysia. Meat sources include beef, pork, chicken,  lamb and even kangaroo.

That this food business generates foreign income is impressive given the small workforce required to run the complex plant  at Bayles.

The energy needs of the drying equipment are so high that heat is generated onsite via boilers fuelled with brown briquettes from Yallourn.  However, electricity use is essential for the large freezers and cool rooms storing raw product.

An impressive aspect of the inspection was  the emphasis on hygiene, meeting numerous regulatory requirements as well as being ever ready for audit by  authorities such as the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service.  International concerns about mad cow disease have necessarily imposed standards around the  use of beef products.  Further, sampling is routinely undertaken for microbial presence, with off-site testing undertaken and recorded.

We all gained a sense of this enterprise being a leader in its field. No doubt staff loyalty is an element of Scalzo success in the important food industry.

After lunch a visit was  made to Bandicoot Corner, a small reserve of Crown land managed by  the Cardinia Environment Coalition (CEC).  The reserve provides a safe haven for two species of bandicoot and other native wildlife.  A CEC volunteer gave a short guided tour, with WOF members keeping alert for bandicoot sightings.  This quiet corner of the former Koo Wee Rup swamp did not deliver a  bandicoot on this occasion.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms.  The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate.  Our next monthly visit will be on 13 April to the DPI facility at Ellinbank.  The focus of this visit will be dairy cattle and the testing  which DPI undertakes.  Phone the Secretary for more details – Jean Irvine on 56221236, or, for the 2010 calendar of activities go to the websitewww.womenonfarms.org

For enquiries about this article, please contact:

Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.