History of the South Australian Produce Market

In South Australia, growers and buyers traded from their carts and wagons on East Terrace, up until the mid 1800’s.

Produce grown was sold directly from growers to the fruit and vegetable shop owners.

The East End Market Company and Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange were founded and operated in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD just off East Terrace for 30 and 84 years respectively.

However by the mid 1860’s, the number of grower and fruit and vegetable shops grew dramatically and the South Australian Government regulated the trading of fruit and vegetables.

With an increasing population and production costs, Adelaide’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market was proving to be too small and inefficient and additional operating space was required.

In 1987 growers, wholesalers and retailers formed a private company, South Australian Produce Markets and began construction of a new market complex in the northern suburb of Pooraka.

After outgrowing the market in the East End, the site was closed in October 1988 and relocated to the Pooraka site.

With the landscape of fruit and vegetable trade and purchasing forever changing, the facility certainly continues to operate in its own world.

The South Australian Produce Market is home to many growers, wholesalers and retailers, many who have been in the game for longer than they can remember.

They have continued to change and adapt to society, however the relationships between many longstanding individuals and families remain as strong as ever.

Celebrating 30 Years of the South Australian Produce Market

In 2018, the SA Produce Market celebrated 30 years at the Burma Rd, Pooraka Site.

Pat Scalzi – Longest standing board member of the South Australian Produce Market – shares his story of the market.

My background wasn’t one of wealth and privilege, but one of struggle, where hard work is ingrained into your existence and trust, respect and loyalty are valued above all things.

The East End Market was a place and a group of people that upheld those values, with hardworking growers, merchants and retailers that were always looking for the best price for the freshest produce.

I must’ve been about 11 years old when I first entered the East End Markets, which at the time was full of a range of nationalities.

The early morning trade, the colour, the dirt and the grit were all a part of the reality and rawness of the East End.

I was there working with Peter Craig whenever I had spare time before school and during school holidays, just so I could be amongst the hustle and the bustle of growers, merchants and retailers working hard to put food on the plate of customers.

I loved the business and the trade between groups, sealing the deal with a handshake and paying in cash.

In 1972, at the age of 20, I began my own wholesale business and it grew based on the foundations of loyalty and trust, grateful for a small handful of growers that saw something in me and nurtured my passion for the industry.

I lived to take care of the grower and my customers, with many becoming like family, as I competed with other merchants to provide quality, freshness and service.

I learnt quickly that your name is your word and understood the importance of the supply chain  working together, always wanting to take care of whoever I worked with.

After many years of successful trading, it was on the 1st of October 1988 that we had our last day in the East End. The time to leave our city-based home had come as our growing operations demanded more space.

With 12 months to leave our home, more than 50 merchants worked with the government at the time to buy land at Burma Road, Pooraka, a significantly bigger site than our bursting East End.

October the 4th 1988 marked opening of the Adelaide Produce Market and with more room to breathe, merchants improved their operations and remained as competitive as ever with each other.

The Market has grown and changed since then, becoming the South Australian Produce Market and home to provedore businesses and those businesses that support the Market.

However, the Market is still a place where your word is stronger than any contract, a handshake holds you to the commitment you have made to a grower or retailer, and your name is everything.

When I look at the Market and the agricultural industry I see proud, hardworking people that love what they do, opportunities to better yourself and success to be achieved if you are humble and faithful.

Your success hangs on the promises you make to those people and the respect you show them, with each link in the supply chain dependent on each other.

Burma Road Pooraka has been our home for the past 30 years and now we look to the next 30 years.