Australia is a vast land. It’s the sixth largest country in the world. From the wide open spaces to the rugged coastlines, the rich variations in landscape and climate nurture distinctive regional food cultures and industries.
South Australia is a showcase of all that is best about Australia’s fresh flavours and products. This is the state that honours tradition – yet mixes it with an openness to innovation. This is the winning combination underpinning dozens of South Australian food business success stories.
Located centrally on the Australian continent, South Australia is the nation’s fourth largest state by size. South Australia’s 983,482 square kilometres incorporate diverse micro-climates and distinct regions, growing and producing an extraordinary range of food and wine. The capital city, Adelaide, is home to most of the state’s 1.6 million population, with regional settlements following the fertile coast and farming land along the River Murray.
Our produce ranges from tangy citrus to luscious stone fruit, quality vegetables, nuts, and pure honeys; from premium seafood from our cold, clear waters, to beef, lamb, pork and poultry raised on rich, fertile soils; and from fine dairy to gourmet processed foods.
Successive waves of migrants to South Australia have brought with them new knowledge, new ingredients and new cuisines that have thrived in the gentle Mediterranean climate. Migrants from all around the Mediterranean, and Asia, have imbued South Australia’s food culture with respect for the very best and freshest ingredients, generously shared. Our gastronomic history is clearly discernible on the plate when you taste the produce of renowned regions such as the Barossa and Adelaide Hills, where the German and Silesian roots of these communities are clear to taste in the smallgoods, pickles, chutneys, jams and baked goods produced today.
South Australia has a proven record of success in developing new food industries too, including establishing developing an ocean-to-consumer value chain partnership for the lucrative abalone market and introducing consumers to products such as verjuice, capers and Australian native herbs and spices.
The majority of South Australian food and beverage manufacturers and producers are small to medium enterprises, often owner-operated and family owned. Amongst these are many now managed by successive generations of the establishing family, such as Thomas Foods International, Coopers Brewery, Haigh’s Chocolates, Robern Menz, Barossa Fine Foods, Spring Gully Foods and Beerenberg.
Discover the regions and foods of South Australia
Strong regional branding has built a loyal following for South Australia’s iconic produce and brands. These are the famed South Australian food regions:
Adelaide is a city seemingly designed for food lovers and producers. Located no more than an hour of some of the diverse production regions of the state, the finest South Australian produce comes to the city’s cafes, restaurants and retailers and farmers’ markets. In and around the capital city are numerous food manufacturers, making the most of easy access to their raw ingredients, and to transport for their finished products to their markets locally, interstate and overseas.
The Adelaide Hills are just minutes from the centre of Adelaide. The change in altitude from the plains is the secret behind the cooler climate and rainfall in this region, nurturing some of our finest stone and pome fruits and vegetables. Berries thrive here alongside rich smallholdings producing artisan cheeses and smallgoods.
The Barossa is located about 60 minutes drive north of Adelaide. It was first settled by German-speaking Silesian migrants and remains a heartland of German-inspired culinary tradition. It is one of the world’s finest wine-growing regions and a showcase for the great European preserving and baking traditions.
The Clare Valley is around two hours north of Adelaide and features rich, picturesque farming country producing premium olive oil, free range chickens and eggs, premium lamb and carob. Clare Valley grain is a famous ingredient in the locally-produced organic flour and pasta.
The Eyre Peninsula is ‘Australia’s seafood frontier’. Located a few hours’ drive or a short flight from Adelaide, this region is home to spectacular coastlines and to South Australia’s wild and aquaculture fisheries producing abalone, tuna, whiting and oysters for local and international consumption.
The Fleurieu Peninsula is an hour south of Adelaide. Known as the ‘perfect peninsula’, this is a region of lush paddocks edged by clear, cold oceans and is home to premium dairy farms, cool climate vineyards, olive plantations and bountiful seafood.
Flinders Ranges and Outback
The start of Flinders Ranges and Outback is a four hour drive from Adelaide, and famous as the gateway to the rugged Australian Outback. These ancient outcrops also hide fertile micro-climates collectively known as South Australia’s northern fruit bowl, growing premium avocado, citrus, stone fruit, and summer and winter vegetables.
Kangaroo Island lies south of Adelaide and is reached via a short boat trip or by air. It is a large island,(roughly the same size as Bali or Long Island in New York) and combines untouched natural bushland with fertile farmland famous for dairy produce, poultry, grains, honey and seafood.
The Limestone Coast is the name given to the lands reaching from the world heritage coastline and internationally recognised sustainable fishery of the Coorong, about an hour’s drive from Adelaide. This region includes the tiny 12km wide pocket of terra rossa soil over limestone that produces the internationally acclaimed Coonawarra wines, and a thriving gourmet produce industry producing local honeys and native preserves, while the pastures produce lamb, kangaroo, duck, venison, and wagyu beef.
The Murraylands are home to a co-location of ocean, river and rolling plains, where the wide open spaces produce our finest potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, capsicums, salad greens, olives, and wheat. All this, plus some of our best dairy and livestock herds and more great seafood from the nearby seas, is just an hour’s drive from Adelaide.
The Riverland is only two and a half hours from Adelaide and famous around the world for tangy, vitamin-rich citrus as well as the spectacular cliffs and vistas of the great Murray River. Life is lived on the river’s edge here, and award-winning fresh and dried fruits, capers, almonds, olive oil and handmade chocolates are among the area’s signature produce.
The Yorke Peninsula is just an hour’s drive north west of Adelaide. This is grain country, and at its heart is the famous “barley capital of the world” – Minlaton. This region supplies brewers the world over with premium barley. The surrounding coast features a plentiful harvest of seafood and the area also has a rich mining history. A distinctive cuisine preserves the connection with the Cornish miners who migrated here, epitomised in the celebrated Cornish pasty.
Like to know more? Check out our facts and figures about the South Australian food and beverage industry below.
Like to eat great South Australian produce? If you are keen to experience the best of our regional produce, visit Eat Local SA, where you will find over 200 venues showcasing South Australian foods and beverages on their menus and shelves.
You can also visit the South Australian Tourism website for more information about the regions of South Australia.