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Industry news round up

Leitchville factory restarts cheese making

Murray Goulburn’s factory has resumed cheese production at Leitchville after a 20-week shutdown. The factory usually closes for eight weeks for maintenance, but the company decided on the extended closure this year because of low milk prices. Managing director Peter Brady says the plant reopened on time yesterday, with all 60 staff coming back to work this week.

“We start to gradually bring in milk to build the production up and then as that increases with normal spring production of milk the plant increases up to its normal full capacity,” he said.

Bundaberg Sugar workers set to strike

More than 200 workers from Bundaberg Sugar, in south-east Queensland, will walk off the job on Thursday after failing to resolve an industrial dispute. The Australian Workers Union (AWU) says the 24-hour strike is in response to plans to cut travel leave entitlements. There is also an indefinite ban on overtime. The AWU met management yesterday afternoon to try to avoid the strike action, but the parties were unable to reach agreement.

Islanders move to gazump gourmet groupies

King Island producers are spear-heading a campaign for federal protection against cheap copy-cat imposters. The island is often considered the cream of the state’s gourmet brands, renowned for its gourmet, beef seafood and dairy. But producers on the island say jobs and incomes are under threat with an increasing number of copy-cat producers slapping the label on their products. Grant Courtney from the Australasian Meat Industry Workers Union says the proof is in the numbers. “The King Island brand alone, you’re looking at 27,000 animals that get processed and generally about half a million get sold.”

Last month, a Federal Select Committee on regional branding ruled out introducing laws to protect the brand. But Grant Courtney says unions will not give up on their push for federal protection. He says King Island could be used as a template for the rollout of better laws protecting regional brands. “There’s simply no legal framework in place. This is a Federal Government issue and the Government needs to get behind this and look after the regions in Tasmania but also regions across Australia,” he said. The union wants across-the-board accredited regional brand labelling coupled with an awareness campaign. “It’s not rocket-breaking stuff here, you would simply have on the product made and processed in Tasmania,” he said.

Chris Oldfield from the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association wants the State Government to pitch in for a consultant to help weed out the frauds. “If you’re in a lot of markets in Victoria, you’ll see just plastic stickers stuck on meat saying ‘King Island’ and we doubt that a lot of that meat is ‘King Island’.” “We’re not talking about running federal court cases, we’re talking about doing simple things like encouraging retailers in the meat industry in Victoria in particular to be honest when marketing King Island products,” he said. The Treasurer Michael Aird is seeking advice on state-based brand protection but says protection is available through the ACCC.

Producers say efforts to prosecute through the federal watchdog have proved fruitless. They have launched a branding campaign of their own, designing a new logo to help distinguish King Island products. King Island seafood producer Donna Whitehouse-Summers says the lack of protection from the ACCC has forced islanders to take matters into their own hands. “Through the ACCC the onus has been on us to prove that the product is not a King Island product, and this is just one way that we can promote and protect and hopefully keep jobs on King Island.” Lobsters will be the first to be tagged as authentic King Islanders.

Source: ABC

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