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Pangkarra Foods

Photo by Dan Wood


Interview with – Katherine Maitland of Pangkarra Foods.

Translated from the Kaurna people, Pangkarra means sustainably passing the land from generation to generation. For five generations, the Maitland family has produced quality cereals and legumes, as well as export hay on this land. Today, under the Pangkarra Foods brand, they also produce whole grain dry pasta, Lavosh, Grissini and stone milled whole grain durum flour. Their products are made from 100% durum wheat grown on the farm using organic fertilisers. Every step of the process from wheat to pasta creation, takes place in South Australia.

“It all starts at the farm, the grain is grown here, this is the heart of our business.”

Establishing the business as Pangkarra Foods embodied the very essence of what we were building here. For five generations my husband Jim’s family have lived and worked this land using sustainable farming methods, from the wheat growing in the field to the traditional stone-milling process that retains the integrity of our grain. We value our land and our heritage, it all goes into the creation of our product.
It is still an organic small family business that is managed from the farm. The inventory is checked here, we arrange for it be transported to our milling partner Laucke Flour Mills, based in Strathalbyn. The flour then goes to Glynde to be made into pasta. I’m proud to say it all happens here in Australia made from Australian ingredients, in fact it’s all from here, South Australia.

“The most rewarding moment was getting our first re-order.”

Gaining recognition from our peers and people in the industry, whether that be winning an award to a customer coming up and saying, ‘yours is the only pasta I eat.’ Having that kind of loyalty with the brand has been really rewarding.

“We wanted to create a business that retained integrity from paddock to plate.”

Jim went to Marcus Oldham College for three years, a school that really encourages young farmers to do something innovative, so after completing, he really wanted to start this business from paddock to plate. We both wanted to grow something that allowed us to maintain control over the whole supply chain.

“Family owned and run keeps the overall vision intact.”

For us, it’s about being involved, to have someone there making decisions, overseeing. I think that is really important because as we grow, we’ll probably rely more heavily on contractors, suppliers, distributors and reps but having somebody in the family at the head is vital.

“We pride ourselves on keeping the whole production process in Australia.”

That means everything originating here, the ingredients, the manufacturing, the packaging, the people, not just part of it being made or produced in Australia. We could have our pasta made overseas for half the price, but that’s not who we are, that doesn’t fit with our core values, we want to keep everything here in Australia. The company that make our pasta, L’Abruzzese, has a program that employs autistic children to pack the pasta and there are about thirty-five people employed at that factory alone. It’s important for us to make sure they all have jobs.

“Our goal is to grow a sustainable future for our children.”

We want to continue to grow this business and make sure it’s sustainable for our children. We’ll probably never see the rewards of what we are doing now, but hopefully our family will benefit. In agriculture you have to be so dynamic and innovative, it’s not easy. There are not a lot of farmers out there taking this path and probably for good reasons, but we wanted to create something beyond agriculture. That’s why we decided to invest and sustainably grow something to pass to our next generation. Pangkarra.

The Kaurna People

Pangkarra Foods is working in collaboration with the Kaurna Warra Pintyandi people. Kaurna Warra Pintyandi (lit. ‘creating Kaurna language’) is a group of Kaurna people, teachers, linguists and language enthusiasts who are passionate about the reclamation and revival of the Kaurna language.