Sunshine Pantry

Queensland’s Sunshine Pantry

Image source: Photographer Visit Sunshine Coast

Matt Golinski opens the doors on a new initiative that celebrates local produce and the experiences and events driving our food scene.

In 2015 a small group of people involved in different areas of the food industry got together at a factory in Palmwoods to discuss ways they could collaborate to help make it easier to succeed as a small food business.

Eight years later, FAN (Food and Agribusiness Network) has more than 370 members from across the food value chain located in Gympie, Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and beyond and is recognised nationally and internationally as a leading Australian food cluster. Members include input suppliers, growers, manufacturers, retailers, foodservice operators and affiliated services.

It can be a minefield for anyone who decides to take the plunge into creating a product that they want to sell at a market, or supply to retailers – the decisions associated with packaging, labelling, marketing and council regulations can be mind boggling, not to mention the business skills and cash flow management required to stay afloat through the start-up period.

I imagine that without the support of FAN and all it offers, many of those 370 members would not still be in business today. It’s a credit to those who had the vision to start such an initiative, and all that have poured their energy into making sure the model continues to develop and evolve. 

We know that the flow on effects of a small business’ success go far beyond making one individual wealthier – it creates local jobs, keeps money within a community and provides consumers with greater quality and diversity.

But in the case of this region, the greatest effect of small food businesses succeeding seems to be the confidence it gives to those thinking about acting on that idea they have for a great product.

There are literally hundreds of shining examples in front of them showing that it can be done, and that there is a strong market for something unique and interesting.

Every week there are newcomers taking the plunge and adding to the story of our food identity in the world, like Paul and Nicole from Noosa Natives with their range of indigenous fruit powders and flavoured yoghurts made from the fruit they grow on their property at Carters Ridge – or Sam Penny with his delicious Max + Tom cheese range.

It used to be the case that if you wanted to support local producers you really had to go looking, but these days with the help of groups like FAN, Slow Food Noosa and Country Noosa, it couldn’t be easier to buy your food straight from the source.

Adding to the list of resources is a great new initiative by FAN and Visit Sunshine Coast, ‘Queensland’s Sunshine Pantry’, a one-stop-shop website giving you the heads up on events, markets, tours, producers and restaurants that define the greater Sunshine Coast’s food scene – some 900 producers and makers.

If we travel to Italy, we understand that Tuscany is going to have a very different style of cuisine to Sicily, and slowly but surely Australia is developing the same regional food identities – we want travellers whether they are domestic or international to remember parts of the country for what they have to offer gastronomically, to be the reason they visit, and to go away talking about those experiences to everyone they see.

Our beautiful region has so much to offer and the food network it has built through all of its channels sets a great example for other areas wishing to achieve the same.

Summer on the coast is about sandy beaches and crystal clear rockpools, fresh seafood, healthy salads and juicy summer fruits. Walks through rainforests finished off with afternoon cocktails. Living in your togs and only hopping out of the pool to get more watermelon.

Nothing has to be fancy to be memorable, it just has to be authentic.

And authenticity is something there’s no shortage of in these parts.

About the Author /

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Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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