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About my region – Greater Adelaide South Australia

​​About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the Greater Adelaide region and the recent financial performance of the South Australian broadacre, dairy, and vegetable industries.

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Regional overview

The Greater Adelaide region comprises twenty three local government areas. It includes the city of Adelaide and the regional centres of Gawler and Mount Barker. The region covers a total area of around 3,258 square kilometres or less than 0.5 per cent of South Australia’s total area and is home to approximately 1,324,300 people (ABS 2017).

Agricultural land in the Greater Adelaide region occupies about 1,750 square kilometres, or 54 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 510 square kilometres, or 16 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is grazing modified pasture which occupies 1,110 square kilometres or 34 per cent of the Greater Adelaide region.

Broad land use in the Greater Adelaide region
Shows a map of broad land use in the Greater Adelaide region. It includes a legend which shows the broad land use categories— nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use; grazing native vegetation; production forestry; grazing modified pastures; plantation forestry; cropping; horticulture; intensive uses and water. This map is discussed in the above paragraph.
Source: Catchment scale land use of Australia ABARES 2017


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 647,000 people were employed in the Greater Adelaide region. The Greater Adelaide region accounts for about 78 per cent of total employment in South Australia and 22 per cent of all people employed in the South Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.

Health care and social assistance was the largest employment sector with 106,000 people, followed by retail trade with 71,100 people, and manufacturing with 54,900 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were construction; education and training; and public administration and safety. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 7,700 people, representing 1 per cent of the region's workforce.

Employment profile, Greater Adelaide region, November 2017
Shows the number of people employed in the Greater Adelaide region by industry in thousands. The figure is discussed in the previous two paragraphs.
Note: Annual average of the preceding 4 quarters.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 6291.0, Labour Force, Australia 2017

Agricultural sector

Value of agricultural production

In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in the Greater Adelaide region was $428 million, which was 7 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in South Australia ($6.2 billion).

The Greater Adelaide region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the Greater Adelaide region based on the gross value of agricultural production were vegetables ($106 million), followed by apples ($64 million) and wine grapes ($47 million). These commodities together contributed 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2015–16 the Greater Adelaide region accounted for almost 100 per cent ($21 million) of the total value of the state's brussel sprouts.

Value of agricultural production, Greater Adelaide region, 2015—16
Shows the gross value of agricultural production in the region in millions of dollars. The figure is discussed in the previous three paragraphs.
Note: The graph shows only data published by the ABS. Some values were not published by the ABS to ensure confidentiality. The "Other commodities" category includes the total value of commodities not published as well as those with small values.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, cat. no. 7503.0, Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia 2017

Number and type of farms

ABS data indicate that in 2015–16 there were 1,037 farms in the Greater Adelaide region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 11 per cent of all farm businesses in South Australia.

Number of farms, by industry classification, Greater Adelaide region, 2015–16

Industry classification

Greater Adelaide region

South Australia

Number of farms

% of Region

Number of farms

Contribution of region to state total %

Grape Growing





Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)





Vegetable Growing (Under Cover)





Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)





Apple and Pear Growing





Sheep Farming (Specialised)





Horse Farming





Dairy Cattle Farming





Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing





Stone Fruit Growing





Olive Growing










Total agriculture





Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more. Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017

Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Grape growing farms (297) were the most common, accounting for 29 per cent of all farms in the Greater Adelaide region, and 22 per cent of all grape growing farms in South Australia.

Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 45 per cent of farms in the Greater Adelaide region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 8 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2015–16. In comparison, 13 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 58 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide region in 2015–16.

Distribution of farms by estimated value of agricultural operations, Greater Adelaide region, 2015–16
Shows share of farms and share of value of agricultural operations in the Greater Adelaide region. The figure is discussed in the previous paragraph.
Note: Only farms with an EVAO of $50,000 or more in 2015–16 are included in these data. The scope of ABS Rural Environment and Agricultural Collections changed in 2015–16 to include only agricultural businesses with an EVAO of $40,000 or greater.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017

Farm financial performance

Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, beef, sheep, grains, dairy and vegetable farms in South Australia.

Fisheries sector

King George whiting and Snapper are two primary target species for recreational, commercial and charter fishers in the Greater Adelaide region. Blue crabs and western king prawns are caught mostly in the Gulf St Vincent. Other important wild–catch species include, abalone, southern rock lobster, giant crab and are found along the coast of the region.

In 2014–15 the gross value of South Australia's fisheries production was around $468 million, an increase of 19 per cent ($76 million) from 2013–14. South Australia contributed 17 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for 51 per cent ($240 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 49 per cent ($227 million).

South Australia's wild–catch fisheries sector is dominated by four main products—Southern rock lobster, prawns, abalone and Australian sardines—which account for 52 per cent, 15 per cent, 11 per cent and 9 per cent respectively of the total value of wild-caught production in 2014–15. Over the last decade the real value of South Australia's wild-caught fisheries products has increased by 1 per cent to $240 million (2014–15). The product for which the real value of production increased most over the past decade are wild-caught rock lobster, increasing by $38 million. A large proportion of abalone is exported, mostly to Hong Kong, China and Japan. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of abalone exports and, in turn, production. Prawns are mostly sold in the domestic market, where competition from imports has placed significant downward pressure on prices in recent years.

Most Australian sardine production is used as a high quality feed in tuna ranching operations located off Port Lincoln in South Australia. A small portion also goes toward human consumption, the recreational fishing bait market and premium brands of pet food.

In 2014–15 the value of South Australia's aquaculture production is estimated to have increased by 25 per cent from $181 million in 2013–14 to $227 million in 2014–15. Southern bluefin tuna is the single most valuable species in the region and South Australia's aquaculture industry, and is ranched by the Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna fishery for fattening in sea cages at Port Lincoln. Southern bluefin tuna accounted for 57 per cent (131 million) of the value of South Australian aquaculture production, followed by oysters (12 per cent; $28 million) and abalone (5 per cent; $11 million).

Commonwealth fisheries active in waters off South Australia include the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (main source of domestic fresh fish for Sydney and Melbourne markets) the Shark Gillnet and Shark Hook Sectors (supplies gummy shark or flake to Melbourne) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery and the Great Australian Bight sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery harvesting mainly redfish and flathead. The Small Pelagic Fishery (mostly fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture) also operates in the waters off South Australia.

In 2014–15, South Australia's fisheries product exports were valued at $244 million. The main export products include tuna, Southern rock lobster and abalone. Japan and Vietnam are the major destinations for South Australian fisheries exports, accounting for 52 per cent and 28 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15, respectively. Other major export destinations include Hong Kong (12 per cent) and Singapore (2 per cent).

Recreational fishing is popular in South Australia with an estimated 236,000 South Australians (5 years and over) participating in the activity in the 12 months prior to October 2007 (PIRSA 2010). In its survey of recreational fishers in South Australia PIRSA (2010) found that most fishing effort is directed to the Gulf St. Vincent and Kangaroo Island waters (42 per cent), followed by Spencer Gulf (27 per cent), West Coast (11 per cent) and the South East waters (7 per cent). Most (87 per cent) fishing effort occurred in marine waters, including estuaries, and inshore and offshore waters. The remaining 13 per cent of effort was in freshwater activity, with the majority of this effort occurring in the River Murray. The key species caught by recreational fishers include King George whiting, snapper, southern garfish, southern calamari, blue swimmer crab, southern rock lobster, mulloway, blacklip and greenlip abalone, pipi, golden perch and murray cod.


ABS 2017, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 19 September 2017.

PIRSA 2010, South Australian recreational fishing guide 2009, Department of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, Adelaide.

Last reviewed:
20 Apr 2018