Growing the capability of people

Catherine Sayer, Food South Australia


Food and beverage generated $8.8 billion in revenue in 2018-19.


The food and beverage industry is a major contributor to our economy, generating $8.8 billion in revenue in 2018-19.

For almost two decades, the sector has shown consistent growth thanks to the investment in people by companies such as Lifestyle Bakery and Mexex.

Lifestyle Bakery, a leader in gluten free breads and baked products, has improved its competitiveness in a sector dominated by national brands through staff personal development, knowledge building and continuous training. In 2018, the company developed business-specific upskilling strategies, including a mentoring program for the management team employing industry experts.

Mexex is an industry-leading food product manufacturer specialising in aseptic and hot fill processing of dairy and vegetable-based products.  As an owner-operated business, in 2019 Mexex chose to invest in its own people rather than contract staff, providing ongoing training, an internship program and career development for all employees.

Both companies won awards for their commitment to training and education in 2018 and 2019 respectively at the South Australian Premier's Food and Beverage Industry Awards, run by Food South Australia.

Education and training drives innovation and growth

Food South Australia (Food SA) is an independent, industry-led and membership-based organisation that represents South Australian food and beverage manufacturing companies.

“We run a number of programs and initiatives to build the capacity and capability of our member businesses,” said Food SA CEO, Catherine Sayer.

“To reflect the growing commitment by businesses to build the capacity of their staff, Food SA introduced the Education and Training Award in 2018.

“We know education and training is critical for the growth of our industry” said Catherine.

“This is important to us, because we know that if you’ve got highly skilled people, your business will be more productive, more innovative and more successful.”

In recent years, coaching and mentoring has been another key initiative employed by Food SA.

“We’ve found that you can build capability and capacity through workshops, but mentoring and coaching tailored to the individual business’ needs and objectives has really become a helpful tool to assist businesses in their growth,” said Catherine.

The Food South Australia Summit was held virtually for the first time in 2020. It had significant reach to food and beverage businesses and has set a new paradigm for online learning in our industry in the future.