Shovels in the ground for juicy new project
MEMBERS of the local pineapple industry gathered in Hidden Valley today to celebrate the Sod Turn of a new state-of-the-art processing facility for the tropical fruit.
In a joint-funded project with the Australian Government, Hidden Valley Harvest will construct the facility, using new food processing technologies to create new high value and highly nutritious value-added products.
The $11,616,000 project is on track to be completed by June 2020, supporting 46 jobs in construction and creating 26 ongoing jobs after completion, in addition to using local businesses and producers.
Local pineapple growers Ben Clifton, Dale Sherriff and John Cranney were all very excited about the project, agreeing it was a "great opportunity to get fantastic Australian fresh fruit into a global market".
"Anything that helps the industry and Central Queensland is fantastic. We just had a sample of the juice they are going to be producing and it is absolutely sensational," Mr Sherriff said.
"This facility is very exciting as growers," Mr Clifton said.
"To have future technology here in Yeppoon to help our local economy develop is very exciting.
"This will be an opportunity for us to keep increasing the size of our operations with economy and scale to keep us viable into the future.
"I would like to see growers and consumers get behind it. Let's make this happen."
When asked how they would describe their pineapples, they said they were "bloody beautiful" and the "best in Australia".
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry couldn't agree more after tasting some fresh pineapple juice, saying the "beautiful pineapple nectar was just divine".
The self-titled "pineapple queen" said the new 2000 sq m factory would meet consumer demands locally and internationally for high quality processed fruit products and would attract new customers to the Queensland pineapple and tropical fruit industries.
"The project will boost the skills and knowledge of regional people in the use of leading-edge food technology, provide a more sustainable way of managing fruit supply to meet consumer demand and provide a significant boost to the local area by generating economic activity throughout the region," Ms Landry said.
"We have the best quality pineapples here in Yeppoon, people say they are the best they have ever tasted, and I'm happy to see how the ingenuity of primary producers will create new and exciting products with existing stocks.
"For them to be able to expand the life of the fruit now is excellent and those export markets will really open up when they taste how delicious this fruit is."
The project received $5,808,000 in funding from the Australian Government under the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages.
Livingstone Shire Council mayor Bill Ludwig said it was an exciting day, for not only the Capricorn Coast, but for Australia.
Cr Ludwig said they now have the opportunity to share the best fruit in the world with the rest of the world.
"This is something that has been in the planning for a number of years, and I have to I have to acknowledge the support of our Federal Government and Michelle Landry for helping to secure funding," he said.
"This is certainly going to put us well and truly on the world stage with some of the best product in the world and the markets there that are now waiting to enjoy that product internationally."
Director of Hidden Valley Harvest Joe Craggs was excited about starting the next step in the future of the Central Queensland pineapple industry.
"It's a great sense of pride to be able to be part of a local business that is creating the next step for the next generation of pineapple and tropical fruit farmers," Mr Craggs said.
"It's a new venture to turn an amazing fresh pineapple into something that is convenient, has shelf life and has everything good about a day to day fresh pineapple, but is something we can sell in Australia or even overseas.
"Some exciting new products are going to come out of the business here."