NSW gov finds pearl in oyster industry

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and Small Business John Barilaro, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Member for Bega Andrew Constance today announced an equity investment of $3.3 million in Australia’s Oyster Coast (AOC) – a group of Australia’s leading oyster growers based on the NSW South Coast.

The NSW Government’s $3.3 million investment will combine with a $6.7 million co-investment from First State Super, as part of the government’s new GO NSW Equity Fund, established with partners First State Super and ROC Partners last year.

Barilaro said the deal – which will see the government take an ownership stake in AOC – is the second investment under the fund.

“NSW has the biggest and best oyster industry in Australia, and we’re backing AOC to build its brand and business operations at home and overseas,” Barilaro said.

“Importantly this investment will allow AOC to more than double its workforce to 75, creating 40 new full time equivalent jobs.

“What’s so pleasing for me, as the Minister for Regional NSW, is that our first two investments through this new fund have been in agricultural businesses, based in regional NSW.

“This isn’t a helping hand for these oyster growers, it’s a smart business decision – an investment that’s backed by industry experts.

“Any returns we reap for our investment will be re-invested by the fund in other high-potential companies across NSW.

“It shows that if you are in NSW, have a great product and receive a bit of smart backing from the NSW Government then the world really is your oyster,” he said.

First State Super Chief Investment Officer Damian Graham said the deal was another great outcome from the partnership with the NSW Government.

“The investment in Australia’s Oyster Coast reflects our approach to investing in the communities where our members live, work and retire. It will not only deliver returns to our members but will provide capital to help expand an important regional industry on the south coast,” Mr Graham said.

“AOC will use the capital to acquire new leases, invest in new technologies like floating mesh bags to improve productivity and the growth rate of oysters, improve infrastructure, secure a North Coast processing facility and invest in new marketing campaigns,” he said.

Managing Director of ROC Partners Michael Lukin said the firm, as part of its role to identify the best investment opportunities for the fund, was finding many attractive options in regional NSW.

“We are excited by the opportunities in regional NSW we are uncovering as part of our role in the GO NSW Equity Fund,” Lukin said.

Mark Allsopp, AOC CEO said Australia’s Oyster Coast is unique as it produces three varieties of premium oysters, including the Sydney Rock Oyster, the rare Angasi ‘flat oyster’ and the popular Pacific Oyster.

“These oysters are grown under rigorous environmental management systems in some of the world’s cleanest waters by passionate growers with generations of experience – we’re delighted that this investment will support more growth,” he said.

Member for Bega Andrew Constance said he was pleased the investment will deliver more jobs to Australia’s Oyster Coast.

“AOC has done a fantastic job for the region since it was formed in 2013 by eight local growers. They’ve built a recognised brand for their product and I look forward to seeing the results of this significant backing,” Constance said.

Chiko Roll helps keep 123 jobs in Bathurst

Simplot, the maker of the iconic Chiko Roll, has saved 75 jobs and created 48 more roles at its Bathurst  manufacturing plant.

Significant payroll tax support from the NSW Government helped make this outcome a reality and Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro, and the Member for Bathurst Paul Toole today toured the site on Monday.

Barilaro said Simplot was facing the prospect of shutting down in 2013, when the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government stepped in to help the company keep its doors open and remain competitive in a tough sector.

“Bathurst was staring down the barrel of significant job losses,” Barilaro said.

“It would have been a tragedy for one of the biggest employers in Bathurst, let alone the producer of the iconic Chiko Roll, loved by so many, to close down.

“The success story of Simplot today is very different to the situation they faced five years ago.

“It is a tribute to Simplot which, with the right support from the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government, was able to continue to grow and invest in the Central West.

“This story is one that showcases how a good business and a good Government can come together to generate a great result for a local community.

“Simplot has transformed itself from an aging manufacturing site into a globally competitive food processing giant, not only saving jobs at the plant but increasing them,” he said.

Bathurst has been at the centre of food processing in Australia since vegetable canning commenced in 1929, and is the home to household’s brands such as Birds Eye frozen vegetables and the iconic Chiko Roll.

Hundreds lose jobs as Red Lea Chickens closes

Red Lea Chickens has been placed into voluntary administration and, as result, more than 500 workers have lost their jobs.

The company said in a statement posted on its website that it and certain related entities were placed into Voluntary Administration with McGrathNicol partners; Barry Kogan, Jason Preston and Kathy Sozou appointed as Administrators.

“Due to the financial position of the companies, we regret to advise that the Administrators are unable to trade the business and have no alternative other than to undertake an orderly wind-down of operations,” said the statement.

The sacked workers are from the company’s processing plant in the Western Sydney suburb of Blacktown as well as retail stores. The company has operated for over 60 years from this Blacktown site.

Craft brewer Brewpack rebrands, plans $35m facility

Brewpack and Stockade Brew are restructuring under the newly formed Tribe Breweries umbrella and will expand into a new facility in Goulburn.

The $35 million project will see Tribe increase production capacity to over 30 million litres p.a. (approximately 3.5m cartons annual production) with eventual potential for over 70 million litres p.a. (approximately 9m cartons annual capacity). The new state-of-the-art craft beverage production facility is slated to be the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in Australia, and will be completed in September of 2018. The facility will boast best in class brewing and packaging technology in cans, bottles and kegs.

While Stockade will continue to operate under its own brand and label, the Brewpack business will now be rolled under the Tribe Corporate umbrella.

Founded in 2012, Brewpack focused heavily on innovative and high-quality craft brewing of its own proprietary brands, as well as sharing its platform with contract brewing partners to further grow the craft industry.

Under the new umbrella, Tribe will also continue to grow its portfolio of craft products through its newly expanded production into premium cider, RTD’s and boutique non-alcoholic beverages as well as enhancing the breadth of offering through its Marrickville barrel room, launching in late April. This site will become the face and destination for Stockade customers to enjoy the distinctive range of craft beers, as well as experience tours and tastings. This site will focus on next generation beer styles, such as oak aged beers and fermented sours, making them the largest brewer of these beer styles in Australia.

Since its launch over five years ago, Tribe’s current manufacturing facility at Smeaton Grange has grown to well over 1 million cartons of production annually, undergone constant upgrades and modernisation programs and offers superior quality, flexibility and innovation. Furthermore, over the last three years the business has grown its production volumes on average by over 50 per cent a year.

New agreement for NSW wine sector

As part of the 2017 NSW Wine Awards celebration, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government has been announced, signaling a positive step forward for the state’s wine industry.

The MoU has been signed by Tom Ward (pictured, right), President of the NSW Wine Industry Association, Minister Niall Blair MLC (pictured, left), Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry, and Minister Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Tourism and Major events and Assistant Minister for Skills.

Tom Ward says, “This document represents much hard work done behind the scenes and a much closer working relationship between us and the government. It is vital for an industry that not only provides regional communities with sustainable employment and boosts their economic activity but also contributes $1.6 billion to the total NSW economy and plays an important role in our state’s $38 billion tourism sector.”

Minister Blair said, “This Government knows the value of the wine industry to our state, and especially to the regional communities it supports.

“We’ve signed this MoU to ensure the NSW wine industry is in the best possible position to capitalise on trade opportunities, tourism initiatives and research and development, while growing at home and abroad.”

Under this MoU, and in partnership with industry, the NSW Government will undertake to focus on the areas of export markets development, regional wine tourism, and research and innovation.

This includes helping NSW wineries maximise the opportunities outlined in the recent Export and Regional Wine Support Package (ERWSP) announced by the federal government, finalising and releasing the NSW Food and Wine Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (2020) as soon as possible, and improving support for and promotion of inbound visitation across regional NSW, including visitation of wine regions and cellar doors.

The commitments in this MoU also cover using and promoting NSW wines at NSW Government functions and venues and showcasing NSW wine during any overseas Ministerial trade missions.

Finally, the MoU stipulates ongoing high level meetings between government and wine industry every six months at a minimum. Both the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government are committed to action the new MoU and continue to create programs and opportunities that will contribute to a strong, profitable and growing wine industry.

Arnott’s opens new facility in Western Sydney

Biscuit maker Arnott’s has opened a $22 million Multi-Pack Centre at Huntingwood in Western Sydney.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian officially unveiled the facility which features state-of-the-art packaging lines.

“Arnott’s Biscuits is a much-loved Australian icon and has been operating in the country for more than 150 years,” Berejiklian said.

“The company employs more than 2,200 people, with 529 of them working at this worldclass facility in Huntingwood.

Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says business confidence in Western Sydney is sky high meaning more local jobs, sustained growth and an improved standard of living for everyone across the State.

“When Western Sydney wins everyone benefits,” Mr Ayres said. “Jobs are set to boom in this region and we’re seeing some of the biggest names choose Western Sydney as home base.”

Campbell Arnott’s President Asia Pacific Ümit Subasi said the investment demonstrates Arnott’s commitment to manufacturing in Australia.

“The new Multi-Pack Centre will support further innovation in the products we develop for Australian consumers,” Subasi said.

“As a result of the $22 million investment, we have moved our popular snack-pack products into cardboard outers. The new outers are better for the environment, protect the biscuits more effectively and sit more neatly in pantries.”

Ai Group welcomes Gladys Berejiklian as new NSW Premier

The Australian Industry Group has welcomed the news that Gladys Berejiklian has replaced Mike Baird as state leader of the Liberal Party and Premier of NSW.

“Ms Berejiklian has proven in parliament to be very capable, intelligent and focused. Quietly, but with great determination, she has contributed to the State’s economic strength and its reputation as being open for business and the driver of national growth,” Ai Group NSW Branch Head, Mark Goodsell, said in a statement.

“As Minister for Transport, she helped bring a customer focus to public transport operations.

“Her predecessor, Mike Baird, leaves a great pipeline of infrastructure building. The challenge for the new Premier is to ensure those projects are used to underpin a broad economic base for the State by maximising the opportunities available for competitive local companies and supply chains to contribute.

“Ms Berejiklian’s understanding of the links between economic development and community well-being and cohesion, demonstrated in her time as Treasurer, will serve her well in her new role.”

Image: nsw.liberal.org.au

Beer maker Stone & Wood may expand further

Byron Bay beer company Stone & Wood has been reported to be looking to further expand its largest brewery as sales jump by 60 per cent to more than $30 million as a response to rivals’ “corporate comb overs” – attempts by large global breweries to spur growth in the premium and craft beer segments by launching their own boutique brands or buying up smaller brewers to try to compensate in a small way for the declining growth in their core mainstream beer sales.

According to the Australian Financing Review, Stone & Wood has already invested $12 million on a second brewery at Murwillumbah which opened in 2014, but founder Jamie Cook described its production as reaching its “limit”.

This would point to Stone & Wood giving the green light on a further expansion as preparation to meet summer peak season demands and at the same time eye a bigger share of Australia’s $14 billion beer market.

“We’re looking at expansion in the next 12 months,” Cook told AFR.

Cook is adamant on maintaining Stone & Wood as a mainstream brewer and doesn’t classify itself as a “craft brewer”, of which there are 350 operators in Australia who have started out small, and niche.

“We’ve always had the strategy that we’re building a regional beer business,” he said.


De Bortoli Wines sustainability track record the first to go platinum in NSW

De Bortoli Wines has been awarded NSW’s first Sustainability Advantage Platinum Project certificate, in recognition of environmental leadership and commitment to innovation.

The certificate recognises ‘The De Bortoli Method’, a unique potassium recovery system designed to eliminate the environmental impact of potassium build up in soil and significantly reduce dependence on imported caustic cleaning agents.

Sustainability Advantage is the NSW Government’s flagship program, offered via the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), which encourages and enables sustainable best practice in the NSW business community. De Bortoli Wines is one of just 12 NSW companies (and the only winery) to achieve Gold Partner recognition, and is now the first to attain a Platinum Project.

The OEH presented the Platinum Project certificate to the De Bortoli Wines Environment Team today at a ceremony at the family-owned business’s Bilbul Estate near Griffith.

“De Bortoli Wines is widely recognised as a leader in the business community for its demonstrated commitment to sustainable production and consumption,” said Tom Grosskopf, Director, Metropolitan Branch, NSW OEH.

“With this Platinum Project, which is circular by design, De Bortoli Wines should consider itself as a world leader in the pursuit of beyond zero waste and zero harm.”

The De Bortoli Method is the culmination of five years of research and development, and is one of numerous innovative sustainability practices De Bortoli Wines has implemented over the past decade, as it strives to become a ‘Zero Waste Winery’. Initiatives include wise water management, energy efficiency and improved waste management.

De Bortoli’s potassium recovery system utilises electrolysis to recover potassium from spent winery wash water and produces a cleaning solution (potassium hydroxide) for reuse at the winery.

It is designed to extend the life of the business’s wastewater farm, which was established in 2005 when the winery switched from sodium based cleaning agents to potassium based cleaning agents to lessen the winery’s impact on the environment. Fodder and grain crops are grown using the winery’s wastewater and are sold to offset the majority of wastewater management costs. The De Bortoli Method aims to decrease the tonnage of potassium irrigated on the farm to equal the amount of potassium removed by cropping.

This technology has the potential for commercial application across the wine industry or for other manufacturers that use caustic cleaners. In addition to improving wastewater recycling, by reducing the usage of imported caustics, it has the potential to deliver significant savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Chiko roll born in Bendigo, says inventors’ family

The iconic Chiko roll was invented in Bendigo, not Bathurst, Wagga Wagga or Castlemaine, according to the family of its creators.

And as the ABC reports, the deep-fried combination of carrot, cabbage and meat was invented not by one man, as is commonly believed, but by three brothers Leo, Gerry and Frank McEncroe.

According to Leo’s daughter Jedda Noonan, Frank is usually given the credit because he was the one who took it to Melbourne and helped popularise it.

According to family members, the three brothers were working at a dairy factory in Bendigo when they came up with the roll.

Last week, controversy erupted in Canberra when NSW Nationals MP Andrew Gee said in his maiden speech that the Chiko Roll was made in Bathurst.

This did not go down well with everybody in the House. Nationals Member for Riverina Michael McCormack claimed Wagga Wagga as the Roll’s home, and Labor’s Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said it is a product of that Victorian city.

And given that Frank McEnroe was born in Castlemaine, that Victorian city also had a claim on the product’s origins.

The connection with Wagga Wagga comes from the fact that the roll was first sold at the Wagga Wagga show in 1951. And, as Gee pointed out, it is currently made in Bathurst by Simplot.

But, according to the family of it makers, Bendigo is the place. Whether that puts an end to the controversy is yet to be seen.

Lindt cuts ribbon at new Western Sydney factory

Lindt & Sprungli opened its new purpose-built $60 million site at Sydney Business Park yesterday, covering 66,000 square metres and 25,000 square metres of factory and logistics space.

The Blacktown Sun reports that the ribbon-cutting was attended by premier Mike Baird – who is also the minister for Western Sydney – and Lindt Group CEO Ernst Tanner.

“I am delighted that the growth of our business in Australia has allowed us to not only expand our operations but to provide people in Sydney’s west with employment opportunities with Lindt,” the Sunreports Tanner as saying.

Work on the site began in December 2014. The company announced at the time it would move its office, warehousing and distribution from Sydney, Mascot and Eastern Creek there, reported The Rouse Hill Times.

The Marsden Park site’s factory outlet operation commenced in October last year.

Lindt has been in the Australian market for two decades. It was established in 1845 in Zurich.

NSW bakery fined over salmonella outbreak

Betta Maid, an Unanderra bakery which closed last year, has been fined for selling unsafe food and breaching hygiene standards.

Wollongong Local Court fined the company a total of $63,000 plus $20,000 in court costs.

The charges were brought against the company in response to the NSW Food Authority’s investigation into a salmonella outbreak in 10 aged care facilities on the NSW South Coast and ACT between January and March 2015.

As the Illawarra Mercury reports, two residents died and 30 fell ill with a rare strain of salmonella at the facilities of aged care provider IRT.

Betta Maid supplied meat pies, potato pies, sausage rolls and other baked goods to IRT. Some of these were contaminated with a rare strain of salmonella.

The Local Court Magistrate Beattie, agreed with the Food Authority’s submission that there was a hygiene failure and fined the company accordingly.

The Food Authority said in a statement that it was pleased with a decision

“This court result serves as a reminder to all food businesses why food safety systems are crucial, particularly those businesses serving food to the most vulnerable in our community,” said Lisa Szabo, Chief Executive Officer, NSW Food Authority.

“Food businesses are obliged to ensure their food is safe and suitable for human consumption and comply with the standards in the NSW Food Act 2003,” she said.

Charges brought against Betta Maid director, Udo Boschan, have been adjourned to May 26.

Microorganisms get a sweet taste of Ferrero waste

Ferrero Australia’s factory in Lithgow is the first food company in the world to use an Australian-based technology that enables microorganisms to turn liquid sugar waste into safe water.

The factory’s wastewater treatment facility was fitted with nine BioGill bioreactors to ensure it met the requirements for proper disposal of liquid trade waste. As the factory produces a high sugar waste content, when it gets cleaned using water, it produces a liquid that is high in biological oxygen demand (BOD).

According to the ABC, Geoff Cross, Ferrero Australia’s country quality manager, said, “If we don’t break down material with a high BOD, that oxygen is not available for the normal flora and fauna of a river system.” He added that the location of the factory eventually flows into the Cox’s River, which can present major problems in the water such as blue green algae outbreaks.

BioGill commercialised a technology originally developed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) that was used to grow antibiotics and penicillin for the medical industry.

John West, BioGill founder and CEO said that the company also made the technology useful to other fields including dairies, wineries and breweries to clean sewage.

West told the ABC that the organisation got its name from the water going over, not within, a membrane akin to gills on a fish.

“Waste water is pumped to the top of the BioGill chamber, it runs down on the gills containing microbes – the same that live inside our body. They flourish on the membranes and eat the waste out of the water,” he said.

Ferrero had to fix solar panels to the facility to ensure the microorganisms could work well through Lithgow’s cooler weather.

Wastewater from the Ferrero factory then goes to Lithgow’s town water treatment plant and after treatment, proceeds to local waterways.

Cross said that other food companies were interested in the Lithgow project and how it functioned.

“We’ve had quite a few discussions on what we’ve actually done here from the NSW Government’s Office of Environment and Heritage Sustainability Advantage Program,” he said.

Commonwealth research and development tax incentives have been given to BioGill and the company is considering a trial of the invention on the Great Barrier Reef in conjunction with James Cook University and the CSIRO.

Rocky Road House expands their gluten free product range

The rockyroadhouse.com.au, manufacturer’s of allergy free rocky road based in Newcastle NSW today released the expansion of their business with the launch of a new product range.  

The company, which is well known for its gluten, peanut and egg FREE rocky road, has developed the ‘Funny Bunny’ range just in time for Easter. 

Danielle Proctor, Executive Manager of The Rocky Road House said “Whilst the new product range will be available for purchase both online and instore all year round, the recent launch of this new range does lend itself to Easter. With each flavour presenting with it's own little joke it's sure to make even the biggest kid chuckle.

"The product development for this range was very important as we continue to listen to what our consumer are looking for in a new product.  With The Rocky Road House products available nationally in over 300 stores I am very excited about the next phase in the business and what the future holds as we continue to spread our wings”, Proctor said.

More than 40 hospitalised after chlorine exposure

A suspected faulty water pipe led to more than 40 workers from the Baiada Poultry factory in Beresfield being hospitalised on Monday after they were exposed to chlorine dioxide.

The Environmental Protection Authority, the meat packers union and Baiada have all launched investigations into the cause of the exposure, believed to have occurred after a fault with the system used to keep the factory’s assembly line clean.

It is understood to have caused workers to be sprayed with the chlorine solution, leading to complaints of nausea, irritated throats and eyes, and breathing difficulties.

More than 200 employees at the factory were evacuated at about 8.30am after workers reacted to the chemical, and 43 were transported to three hospitals across the Hunter.

Paramedics and Fire and Rescue both attended the factory, treating a number of workers at the site.

Inspector Brett Crotty from Fire and Rescue NSW said the cause of the exposure was a “chlorine solution used to disinfect the assembly line and keep everything clean”.

“There’s one tank with chlorine, and one tank with water, they both go through a pipe and mix together to dilute the chlorine, then they’re sprayed over the assembly line,” he said.

“There has been either a blockage or a fault in the water tank [which has] meant that chlorine has sprayed out over the assembly line.

“It wouldn’t have been for a long time, you know pretty quick if you come into contact with a straight disinfectant.”

Baiada could not confirm how many staff were affected or what had caused the malfunction, a spokesman saying that staff were being “monitored”.

“Our concern is for the well-being of our staff, and we will be conducting a thorough investigation of the cause of the leak,” the spokesman said.

“In the coming days we will be able to provide more information on what has occurred.”

Unaffected staff returned to work after the site was declared safe.

The Environmental Protection Authority visited the site after the evacuation, and has since requested a detailed incident report from Baiada as part of its investigation into the incident.

A spokesperson confirmed that chlorine dioxide was the chemical that leaked at the Beresfield plant.

“Once the site was declared safe by NSW Fire and Rescue HAZMAT crews, EPA officers carried out an inspection of the premises to determine the extent of environmental impacts,” the spokesperson said.

“No offsite impacts were identified.”

Hunter New England Health said all 43 workers, who were taken to Calvary Mater, Maitland and John Hunter hospitals, were in a stable condition.

By about 4.30pm 33 of them were still hospitalised.

A spokeswoman for health saying their status was being “reviewed” and could not confirm whether any would stay overnight.

Neighbours said they did not hear an alarm prior to the evacuation and were not notified by anyone from Baiada of the chemical leak, which is being investigated by the Environment Protection Authority.

On Monday afternoon, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union said that its officers were also on site “investigating the incident”.

Grant Courtney from the union said union officers had been at the site on Monday, and would conduct interviews with staff on Tuesday.

“We’ll be speaking with them to find out firsthand what happened,” Mr Courtney said.

“At the moment our concern is our member’s health.”

He said the union had been unable to confirm a number of details from the company, including how many people had been hospitalised.

“All they have said is that they have complied with their health and safety obligations, but we’ll be conducting our own investigations,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, chlorine dioxide can be used as a disinfectant agent or for treating water.

It exists as a gas at room temperature but can become explosive when its concentration in the air is greater than 10 per cent.

Vacant central coast site to rise again as Tip Top factory

Tip Top has announced that it has purchased and will re-open the former Kellogg’s Australia site at Charmhaven, creating as many as 100 new jobs.

The vacant 25,000 square metre site would be refurbished and integrated into Tip Top’s bakery and distribution network, which includes 11 other factories in Australia (three of these in NSW).

“Tip Top is already a key employer in New South Wales and a strong contributor to its economy – we take great pride in this,” said Tip Top Australia managing director Andrew Cummings in a statement.

“The Charmhaven site will be a complementary addition to our existing network and this exciting multi—million dollar investment will ensure we continue to produce and deliver the highest quality product, daily across Australia”

The site was opened in 2000, before Kellogg’s announced its closure in December 2013 and shut it down in January last year.

The decision was part of a global restructure which saw Kellogg’s shed 7 per cent of its workforce, reported Central Coast Wyong Express Advocate at the time.

Wyong Shire’s mayor Doug Eaton called the news of the factory’s re-opening a “tick of approval” for the area.

“This investment is recognition of the strategic position of the Central Coast to enable food and beverage companies to produce and distribute their products,“ added Eaton.