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History

The Managing Director of Parilla Premium Potatoes is Mark Pye.

Mark worked on his “market gardening technique” while on holidays from school and at the age of 18 leased from his family 30 acres of land to grow Japanese pumpkins for export to Japan. This provided Mark with the capital to buy into dairy cattle and at the age of 21 he was milking 300 cows daily.

Mark sold this venture and moved to the Mallee of South Australia and with his father, Alan, started Parilla Premium Potatoes Pty Ltd. Mark had already gained a firm knowledge and keen interest in Potato Production from his family’s New Zealand Enterprise and expanded this knowledge base to apply it to the Mallee Conditions, 12 inches rainfall per annum from 35 inches in New Zealand.

Mark and three staff arrived from New Zealand and descended on Parilla in South Australia on the 8th of August 1990. Mark leased 600 acres of land from local cereal producers, constructed pivot style irrigation and planted Russet Burbank and Kennebec varieties of potatoes. Mark negotiated contracts to supply McCain foods 8,000 tonnes of processing potatoes while also growing 100 acres of fresh market potatoes. Mark employed local people for harvesting and for several years continued at this supply level.

In 1992 Parilla Premium Potatoes Pty Ltd brought a 5,000 acre farm and diversified into carrot production with contracts to a lucrative carrot juice market. This diversification included sponsoring local employees to gain expertise in the field. By 1996 Parilla Premium Potatoes Pty Ltd had expanded its share in the potato market by buying a share in Zerella Holdings to supply the fresh potato market 365 days of the year. At this stage the company were producing 1000 acres of potatoes and 100 acres of carrots.

Zerella Holdings is a major supplier to of potatoes, onions and carrots to Woolworths and other supermarket chains. Mark sourced a larger local workforce and professional agronomist’s advice to ensure excellent quality of produce. The expansion of market share at such a rapid rate required the acquisition of more fresh land, expanded water licence and the addition of 400 acres of onions and cool storage.

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