Michael Vorrasi, Operations and Marketing Manager of DSA Fresh, graduate of Rural Training Initiatives, Growing Leaders 2011 has won the Young Grower of the Year Award at the National Vegetable Industry Excellence Awards held in Hobart on the 12th of May.
Michael Vorrasi is a grower and processor of Hydroponic Gourmet Lettuce and Asian Vegetable from Direk, South Australia and has been part of the family business for 15 years. Michael has shown great initiative through his participation in the Horticulture Australia Limited funded Growing Leaders program from which he graduated in 2011. Michael has recently been given a seat at the decision-making table as an industry representative on the Ausveg People Development Industry Advisory Committee.
“I have been fortunate enough to grow up in the vegetable industry. I have a great passion for the vegetable industry because of the opportunities it presents and the pride of producing sustainable produce that is both healthy and environmental friendly,” Michael said.
“I believe that I have received this award as a result of my focus on customer demands, market innovation and producing quality produce. I also believe that I achieved this goal due to my involvement and development in the Growing Leader course.”
Jill Briggs, manager of Growing Leaders, said: “Michael is a worthy winner of the Younger Grower for 2012 – National Vegetable Industry Excellence Award. He can be seen as a quiet achiever but it also must be noted that he has a good knowledge and understanding in regards to the industry and the opportunities available. Michael showed enormous potential when he presented an industry vision in Canberra in 2011.”
The National Vegetables Industry Excellence Awards were announced at the Gala Dinner at the Ausveg Convention in Hobart on the 12th of May in front of an audience of industry and national leaders. Michael had the opportunity to celebrate his win with his father who was present at the dinner and a number of his Growing Leaders graduates.
The Australian vegetable industry’s Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) has outlined numerous recommendations for the future of the vegetable industry. As part of these recommendation the structure of Working and Advisory Groups has been re-planned. The plan consolidates the existing nine groups into three Design Teams, with each group aligning to one of the new three strategic priorities.
As part of these new design teams, Michael Vorrasi has been appointed by Horticulture Australia Limited as a member of the new Market & Value Chain Development Design Team. Michael said: “Through being on this Design Team I would like to see an overall increase in opportunities for growers moving forward. I believe the Australian vegetable industry is well positioned to look at opportunities for export and to create new markets for the vegetable industry.”
On the 1st of February 2013, DSA Fresh managing director Michael Vorrasi along with 10 other growers embarked on a tour to Israel, Germany and The Netherlands. This tour exposed us to a range of on and off-farm business practices. It also provided valuable opportunities to network with international industry counterparts and learn about technological innovations, including the latest farming techniques and practices.
We visited vegetable farms, farmers markets and the John Deere Tractor Production Facility in Germany. The tour also included attendance at the Fruit Logistica Conference in Berlin, Germany. The Conference attracts attendees from the entire produce supply chain across Europe, as well as business leaders from every segment of the produce industry worldwide. As a group and individually we gained enormously from this experience and learnt about the latest trends and technologies. This assisted in meeting new customers, developing networks, gathering information and viewing new products and services.
Taking the hard work and enthusiasm of his father Mario as a lead, Michael Vorrasi is one to watch in the local fresh produce sector.
A second generation grower of gourmet lettuce, salad mix and Asian vegetables, Mr Vorassi is managing director of DSA Fresh and this year’s winner of the AUSVEG National Young Grower of the Year title.
Supplying Coles, independent supermarkets and the hospitality sector, the company is based at Direk in SA’s productive market garden territory.
DSA Fresh employs up to 30 people and Mr Vorassi explains why the business moved from field to hydroponic production about 20 years ago.
“My father made that decision in response to consumer demands and general industry trends,’’ Mr Vorassi said.
“Hydroponics is a way of growing plants using nutrient solutions, in water without soil, so the end result is a lot cleaner, which consumers like. We can also grow year round and quality is consistent.
“In the past 10 years we’ve really expanded and our focus in on processing and value adding with different combinations and salad mixes.’’
Technology has played a big part in this recent growth and increasingly consistent yield quality.
But it’s been a step by step approach, he said.
“There are regular developments and changes to keep up with. But we now use computers to monitor all the growth conditions – everything from the feeding of nutrients, to temperature. It takes some of the guess work out and does improve output and one of the major benefits is that we can set the levels that we want things at.
“We have different machines for packaging and I’d say that new technologies have helped increase our output by 50 per cent in the past five years.
“We keep up to date with what’s available to help our operation and our biggest focus is on our customers and we regularly test new products – in fact we have three or four new products on trial at the moment.’’
As Young Grower of the Year, 2012, Michael has been acknowledged for eight years of full-time dedication to his family’s business.
“There is a great deal of satisfaction working in the industry. I love seeing our product on the shelf knowing that it’s healthy and beneficial to the customer.
“Getting the award was a great sense of achievement. It was also a proud moment for my father who has been a major part of my development and it felt like recognition for him as well.”
Michael said some of the challenges facing Australian vegetable growers include a lack of young growers coming into the industry and the continual increase of input cost with the same or lower returns.
CARBON PRICING CUTTING EMISSIONS AND SUPPORTING LOCAL MANUFACTURERS
DSA Fresh has received funding from the Federal Labor Government under the $1 billion Clean Technology Investment Program to invest in projects that will reduce both their power bills and carbon emissions. The funding comes from revenue raised from the Carbon Price.
D.S.A. Fresh will install a 100kW photovoltaic solar system at its salad processing facility in Direk.
Carbon pricing is helping manufacturers invest in energy efficient capital equipment and low emissions technologies, processes and products. This is good for businesses, good for the community and good for the environment.
For more information, businesses can contact AusIndustry on 13 28 46 or visit