South Australia’s vibrant food culture has a global reputation for:

  • world-leading food grown for local consumption and international export
  • a thriving restaurant and café industry
  • increasingly popular food and wine tourism.

South Australia’s food industry is vital to its economy.

The industry generated more than $9 billion revenue in 2017-18.

Food exports from South Australia accounted for $3.97 billion of total merchandise exports in 2017-18.

Development of South Australia's food sector is supported by the industry peak bodies:

Beer and cider

South Australia boasts premium regionally produced beer and cider loved by local and overseas consumers.

South Australia is home to Coopers Brewery, the largest Australian-owned brewery.

Coopers is also the world’s largest producer of home brewing equipment.

In 2011, Coopers were selected to brew and distribute Sapporo Premium Beer, one of Japan’s most popular beers.

In the same year, the company was named the world’s top family business, beating brands including Ford and Estee Lauder.

The brewery is run by fifth generation Coopers descended from founder Thomas Cooper and recently celebrated its 150th anniversary


In addition to its iconic wine industry, South Australia has a thriving local beverage industry.

Our clean environment and high production standards provide local producers with prime opportunities.

Emphasis is on using South Australia’s fresh ingredients to produce quality products.

South Australia’s local producers use premium ingredients:

  • milk from Jersey cows
  • cordials made from generations old recipes
  • fresh juices from Riverland oranges.


South Australia’s dairy industry contributed $938 million to South Australia’s gross food revenue in 2014-15.

Quality and safety

High quality South Australian fresh milk is available to local consumers and is a key ingredient in a range of premium local dairy products including:

  • artisan cheese
  • yoghurt
  • cream
  • ice cream
  • gelati.

Strict food safety standards protect South Australia’s dairy industry.

These high standards mean consumers and investors can have confidence in the quality and safety of South Australian dairy products.

Our dairy exports include processed milk, cheese and butter.

Major dairy export destinations include:

  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Malta.


Grain production is one of South Australia’s most important industries.

The sector generated around $4.6 billion in revenue in 2014-15 from commodity and processed products.

South Australia’s production of grain is:

  • sustainable
  • entirely rain fed (no irrigation)
  • grown with no or minimal use of fertilisers and chemicals.

Internationally competitive

South Australian grains are used in the production of high quality beers, breads, pastas and oils locally and around the world.

About 85% of the grain produced in South Australia is exported to markets, including:

  • the Middle East
  • South East Asia
  • Japan
  • China.


South Australia’s crops also include:

  • wheat
  • barley
  • canola
  • other seeds and pulses.

The industry employs more than 20,000 people in:

  • production
  • baking
  • milling
  • cereal manufacturing
  • malt
  • beverages.


South Australia’s production of fruits, nuts and vegetables totals more than 1 million tonnes each year.

Horticulture production generated around $3.1 billion in revenue for South Australia in 2014-15.

Citrus and almonds are the largest fruit and nut crops produced and are both significant exports for the state.

  • Citrus fruit exports approximately 55,000 tonnes, worth $66 million in 2014-15.
  • In 2014-15, almonds were the largest horticultural export from South Australia with 12,000 tonnes exported and valued at $120 million.

Major international export destinations for South Australian fruit and nuts include:

  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America
  • Germany.

South Australia produces a wide range of vegetables, largely for the local and national market. Major vegetable crops include potatoes, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Local growers benefit from South Australia’s diverse regional climates and produce high quality, clean and safe produce.

  • The Adelaide Hills is ideal for growing apples, pears, cherries and strawberries.
  • The Riverland is famous for its citrus, stone fruit and almonds.
  • The Adelaide Plains greenhouse producers grow tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums.
  • Potato and onion growers are located across the state including in the Limestone Coast, Mallee, Riverland and Adelaide Plains.


Livestock production, which includes meat and eggs, generated $4.6 billion in revenue for South Australia in 2014-15.

South Australia’s focus on sustainable, humane and innovative production has contributed to recent growth in several of its livestock sectors.

Our state’s dedication to research and development also helps local producers improve production and output.


South Australia leads the nation in pork processing.

Pork production has increased by 50% over the past decade and South Australia now processes around 1.2 million pigs a year.

This is more than a quarter of the national output.


South Australia has more than 4,000 beef producers.

They produced approximately $516 million worth of beef in 2014-15.


South Australia runs approximately one fifth of the national sheep flock.

The Gross Food Revenue value of lamb and mutton meat in 2014-15 is almost $1.2 bilion.

The South Australian wool industry produced 56 million kilograms of wool worth $365 million in 2014-15.


The chicken industry has expanded significantly in the past decade.

Poultry processing is now our fastest growing livestock industry.


In 1980, South Australia became the first state to legalise kangaroo meat for human consumption.

South Australia now exports the lean meat to Europe.

Macro Meats is a leading South Australian food business, focused on uniquely Australian Kangaroo meat. A video has been produced that  discusses the many benefits of kangaroo as a choice of meat including the ways to cook, various meat cuts and the environment from where kangaroos are harvested.

Global export

Major export destinations for South Australian livestock include:

  • United States of America
  • Japan
  • China
  • Republic of Korea.


South Australia has an international reputation for producing premium, high quality sustainable seafood.

Our pristine waters are home to some of the world’s most sought after seafood including:

  • rock lobster
  • tuna
  • oysters
  • prawns.

South Australian seafood is in demand locally and in key global markets including:

  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • China.

In 2016-17, South Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors produced around 67,000 tonnes of seafood, generating revenue of $908 million.

South Australian town Port Lincoln is known as the seafood capital of Australia due to:

  • the excellent quality of its products
  • level of port activity
  • economic benefits.

Port Lincoln’s innovative tuna industry now produces sashimi-grade tuna for export.

Discover South Australia's seafood advantages and opportunities (PDF 1.1 MB).

Safe and quality assured

The state’s aquatic environment is protected through a network of:

  • reserves
  • environmental monitoring
  • aquatic animal health programs
  • strict zoning requirements.

South Australia’s standards ensure our seafood has impeccable environmental credentials.

The development of aquaculture zoning is underpinned by research conducted by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) divisions:

Our research looks into:

  • oceanography
  • environmental biology
  • fisheries science.


South Australia makes a wide range of processed premium products.

South Australia’s finished food industry generated $6.6 billion in revenue in 2014-15.

The industry includes post-harvest value adding in:

  • packing
  • cleaning
  • cold-chain management
  • food manufacturing.

South Australia has global manufacturers processing large volumes of primary products such as grain and meat.

Our industry is made up of small to medium-sized companies, many of which are regional and family-owned.

Markets for the processing sector include local food service and retail.

South Australia also sends targeted exports to high-value markets in:

  • Asia
  • the United States
  • Europe.

Food and Wine ScoreCards

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) Food and Wine ScoreCards evaluate the contribution made by the food and beverage industry to South Australia’s economy.

They also identify opportunities for future growth.

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Jul 2016
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