Production at a fourth-generation confectionery business in Adelaide comes to an end today. 

Smyth’s Confectionery, established as a sweets stall in Adelaide Central Market in 1910, made the difficult decision to close after the site of its 3500m2 production facility was acquired by the South Australian Government for the T2D road project. 

Managing Director Peter Smyth said the impact of closing the family business that he joined in 1983 hadn’t hit home yet. 

“At this stage, we’re coping OK, but once the staff all leave on May 2, that’s when it will hit hard — when everyone’s gone,” he said. 

“We’ve had to let go of 20 employees, many of whom have been with us for more than 20 years.” 

In the early days, Smyth’s produced more than 150 different lines, including boiled sweets, fondants, caramels, jellies and chocolates. 

Today, the name is synonymous with its bags of Christmas Mix lollies and fruit-based treats such as Apricot Delights and Apricot Bites that Smyth's produces for Manassen Foods’ Golden Days brand. 

“Our assorted Christmas Mix has been a consistently large focus for the past 60-plus years, with more than 400 metric tonnes (MT) produced annually and distributed throughout Australia,” Mr Smyth said. 

“But demand is greatest for our fruit-based confectionery — we produce more than 800 MT a year. 

“We sort of fell into that category and ended up with the majority of a niche market. The ‘big boys’ left us alone.” 

Despite spending school holidays working in the family business with his two older sisters, Mr Smyth had other career plans. 

“I trained as an electrician when I left school,” he said. 

“In the early days, I did maintenance at the factory but ended up spending a lot of time making confectionery, as well. 

“As the years rolled by, Dad (Jim) stepped back, and I stepped up.  

“The transition happens slowly. You’re never the boss here until the last generation has gone. Dad’s father was still coming to work in his 80s.” 

Driving business: Jim's grandfather, Albert Cann Smyth, proudly advertises the confectionery business he established in Adelaide Central Market in 1910.


Jim, who has clocked up nearly 70 years in the business, has still been coming into work in a retired capacity. 

“He’s seen a lot of change,” Mr Smyth said. 

“We’ve gone from one small block of land to a 3500m2​ factory.  

“Back then, it was very hands-on, but we’ve made the most of new technology and automation.” 

Mr Smyth said it had been an honour to continue the success of the Smyths before him. 

“The generations before us made some pretty good decisions,” he said. 

“We never got too big for our boots. We stuck at our game, formed great relationships over the years and grew at our own pace. 

“We had a solid business for 113 years and we’re still going strong — we've just had one of the best financial years we’ve ever had. People support a quality product.” 

Mr Smyth is not sure what the future holds. 

“My kids have been to uni and had their gap years, now it’s time for me to take one,” he said. 

“It’s been a great ride, but it’s over.” 

Smyth’s Confectionery has been a member of Ai Group since 2009. Prior to that, it was a member of the standalone industry association, the Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia (CMA)On ceasing, the Confectionery Sector was established within Ai Group. 

“Over the years, Ai Group/CMA has provided a constant stream of information and a means of sharing between us all.” — Peter Smyth, Managing Director, Smyth’s Confectionery  

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is Communications Manager at the Australian Industry Group. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, the News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.