$10.3m upgrade for iconic Cascade Brewery

Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) is making a $10.3 million capital investment to significantly increase Cascade’s brewing capability and launch Cascade as one of Australia’s leading craft breweries. The brewing upgrade will result in a 65 per cent increase in production at Cascade.

According to the company, the upgrade is intended to secure its future and realiseits for Cascade and Tasmania to become a craft brewing hub for the Asia Pacific region.

Cascade will expand its craft brewing options, including brewing experimental beers for our Australian and Asia Pacific region operations. It will also brew a number of beers from some of the world’s leading craft brands.

The beers brewed at Cascade will be distributed to all Australian states, with some exported to the Asia Pacific region. This is good news for Tasmania’s local economy and jobs.

The expansion will secure Cascade’s existing jobs, while also creating jobs in the construction phase and five new ongoing full-time jobs.

“We are thrilled that Cascade will become CUB’s craft brewing hub for the Asia Pacific region. It is testimony to our long-term confidence in Cascade, Hobart and Tasmania”, said Jan Craps, CEO of CUB.

CUB selected Cascade to lead our growth in craft beer for a number of reasons. “We love Tasmania’s vibrancy and confidence and its world renowned reputation for clean food and drink. We’re also backing our team of experienced brewers at Cascade to take us to the next level. We’re going to build on a heritage that commenced when Cascade first brewed for Tasmanians in 1832,”  Craps said.

Image: Will Hodgman, Premier of Tasmania at Cascade Brewery.

Sheep, cheese, vodka and sustainability in Tasmania

Hartshorn Distillery, winner of the Beverage of the Year at the 2017 Food & Beverage Industry Awards, uses a cheese making waste product to create alcoholic beverages. Matthew McDonald writes.

About 15 years ago, Ryan Hartshorn’s family moved from Queensland to southern Tasmania with the idea of establishing a dual wine and sheep-cheese-making business.

As Hartshorn, a director and owner of Grandvewe Cheeses and Hartshorn Distillery told Food & Beverage Industry News, given that nobody in the family had experience in these fields, the move was a gamble. His mother Diane Rae did much of the early work. Among other things, she travelled to Europe to learn from experienced cheese makers.

From the outset, sustainability was a key priority for the business. For example, the original idea involved the sheep doing the job of maintaining (eating) the vegetation between the vines. Unfortunately, the sheep weren’t disciplined enough to limit themselves to grass and destroyed the vines themselves. So the vineyard was abandoned in favour of just the cheesery.

Hartshorn Distillery's Ryan Hartshorn (centre) with his sister Nicole Gilliver (left) and his mother Diane Rae (right).
Hartshorn Distillery’s Ryan Hartshorn (centre) with his sister Nicole Gilliver (left) and his mother Diane Rae (right).

 

 

Then, three years ago, Hartshorn decided to take another gamble. “I started to get a bit sick of the cheese side of the business and wanted to have my own creation. I decided to learn how to distill. Essentially, I was trying to figure out how I could make a distillery relevant to a cheesery and how they could work together,” he said.

The obvious path would have been to make milk liquors, but Hartshorn wanted to try something different. He had heard about a business in Ireland using cow whey (a cheese making by-product) to make alcohol and decided to try something similar with sheep whey.

“I asked the Irish operation how to do it but they wouldn’t tell me,” he said. So he had to work it out for himself.

The process of using lactose (the complex sugar found in whey) to make alcohol is not simple because fermentation requires a basic (not complex) sugar.

The only way to transform the lactose into a basic sugar is to use enzymes to break down its protein molecules. Hartshorn read about some enzymes that might be able to do this. With the help of some food technologists in Melbourne, and by a long process of trial and error, he identified the right enzymes and then started to develop his products.

Today, Hartshorn Distillery makes Sheep Whey Gin, Sheep Whey Vodka (which took out the aforementioned award) and Vanilla Whey Liqueur. After three years of operation, the distillery has now overtaken the cheesery, accounting for about 60 per cent of the overall business.

Experience is crucial

Hartshorn emphasised the fact that, in his case, taking a risk and innovating was not easy. He advises others considering taking such a step to first make sure they have plenty of experience behind them.

“I don’t think I could have done this if I came straight from working for someone else. I’d worked in my business (the cheesery) for 12 or thirteen years before making this leap,” he said. “So I had a pretty good understanding of the market. I wasn’t in the alcohol industry but there are a lot of similar factors involved. I had an idea what the market wanted.

“Basically, if you want to innovate, you need to do your research. You need to make sure you know what’s out there and what’s not out there, then try and fill those gaps.”

There is another unique aspect to Hartshorn Distillery. All its bottles are hand-painted and one-of-a-kind. As Hartshorn explained, nobody has copied this. “Big companies can’t really do it because of the work involved,” he said.

The distillery has grown by an impressive 600 per cent in the last year and, while Hartshorn is currently focusing his energies on keeping on top of this demand, he conceded that he may have to soon start thinking about adding some new buildings to the operation.

“I’ll keep my range the same but I’ll keep changing the bottle design. I want to do more collector items,” said Hartshorn.

Whatever happens, sustainability will remain important to the business. “We’ve been trying to use our waste almost from the beginning. We do a few other little lesser-known products like making fudge from whey,” he said. “We also make some of our older sheep into a sausage that we sell through our cheesery. And we make a fruit paste that goes with our cheese made from the waste of wine making.”

For more information on the Awards, or to get involved for 2018, click here.

Hartshorn Distillery’s Ryan Hartshorn makes vodka and gin from sheep whey, a cheese making by-product.
Hartshorn Distillery’s Ryan Hartshorn makes vodka and gin from sheep whey, a cheese making by-product.

 

Cadbury cuts 50 jobs in Tasmania

Fifty workers from Cadbury’s Hobart factory will lose their jobs as the chocolate maker spends $75 million to upgrade the facility.

The job losses represent more than 10 per cent of its Hobart workforce. The company’s parent Mondelez said in a statement most of the job losses, which will happen before the end of the year, are likely to be voluntary redundancies.

“Our team here has worked hard to help us become more efficient, cut costs and improve our competitiveness and as a result, we’ve reduced the cost of converting raw materials into a block of chocolate by 12 per cent,” said Amanda Banfield, Area Vice President.

“But while progress has been made, increasing local and global competition, low domestic growth, rising costs, and Australia’s distance from overseas markets make it difficult to compete against the likes of European factories with lower costs.

“To remain competitive, we need to improve our conversion costs by 30 per cent, plus continue to raise the bar as competition increases further.”

The company said it will realise more efficiencies through investment in new technologies, equipment and automation, plus increase the skills and capabilities of its people and ensure its teams are the right size.

The $75 million upgrade will take place over the next 18 months.

 

Bosch invests $2.5 million in Tasmanian AgTech business

The Bosch Group has invested an additional $2.5 million in Tasmanian AgTech business, The Yield.

The partnership brings together the global sensor manufacturer with one of Australia’s newest and most innovative Internet of Things technology companies.

The Yield uses sensors, data management and user-friendly apps to create novel tools for the agriculture and aquaculture industries.

The technology enables solutions such as improving on-farm productivity, reducing the cost of compliance with food safety standards, increasing shelf life in the food supply chain, and better risk management for financial services in the food industry.

The investment was announced yesterday by Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman.

“This deal reflects the great potential of not just The Yield, but the potential of Tasmania to generate new technology, highly-skilled jobs and investment,” said Hodgman.

“Tasmanian farmers will be the first to access The Yield’s products, giving them an enormous edge in a very competitive market.”

Gavin Smith, Bosch Regional President with responsibility for Oceania is in Hobart for the announcement and last week led a delegation of Bosch executives that toured Tasmania’s agriculture industry.

“The Yield’s is a leader in developing customer focused solutions that bring together the power of the Internet of Things in agriculture. We will work with The Yield to scale their technology globally,” he said.

The Yield founder and CEO, Ros Harvey, said the investment would support growth of the company, including more skilled jobs.

“We are experiencing a strong demand for our technology. This investment allows us to bring forward our agriculture solutions including the development of our microclimate sensing system giving growers unprecedented insight into their local growing conditions,” said Harvey.

“Investment from a globally recognised brand like Bosch will be a big help to accelerate development and get our products into the hands of growers around the world.”

Food and beverages shone as Tasmanian exports surged in 2015

Food and beverage led the way in a surge in overall exports from Tasmania last year.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for the year to January found meat exports increased 46 per cent, seafood 68 per cent, and fruit and vegetables 44 per cent. Wood and woodchips also stood out, up 75 per cent for the period,reports The Mercury.

The result was weakened by lower demand for minerals, though it was still the second-biggest expansion in exports by state last year, following Queensland.

Resources are a major export for the state. For the year to June 2015, Tasmania’s number one and two exports were processed metals and metal products, and ores and concentrates, according to the department of state growth.

The monthly average value of all exports was $216.2 million last year.

Elsewhere, The Advocate reports that overall merchandise exports were up $14 million in January.

January was also the first month of the federal government’s Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, worth $203 million over four years.

A Tasmanian federal Liberal MP, Brett Whiteley, said it was “no coincidence”, citing the scheme and new free trade agreements.

''This government’s reforms have always been about enabling businesses to get their goods to market cheaper, to grow and to employ more Tasmanians,” he said.

''We need to have the market conditions in place for Tasmanian businesses to take full advantage of the new free trade agreements and the freight subsidy expansion.'

Redlands Estate releases “paddock-to-bottle” whisky

Redlands Estate Distillery has released the Southern Hemisphere’s first paddock-to-bottle single malt whisky.

The ABC reports that Redlands grows, processes and distils its own barley for the new product, with the new whisky released yesterday.

According to Redlands’ website, the first release bottles were available by a silent auction last night.

Spokesman Robbie Gilligan said that Tasmania’s temperate climate was ideal for whisky production, and being the only company offering such a whisky would set Redlands apart.

The state’s whisky business has been growing strongly in reputation and output lately. At the end of this year there will be 20 distilleries in the state, according to the ABC, with this number only 10 at the beginning of 2014.

The World Whisky Awards held in March saw the state’s Bill Lark of Lark Distillery inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame and Sullivans Cove named Craft Distiller of The Year.

McCain Foods to invest $10 mill in Smithton plant

McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand will spend up to $10 million dollars over the next two years upgrading onsite storage facilities and building a new packing line at the Smithton plant in Circular Head, Northern Tasmania.

McCain Foods will spend an estimated $7.9 million on the on-site storage over two years and $1.6 million on the new packing line.

The improved storage facility will hold up to 55,000 tonnes of potato for processing.

McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand Agriculture Director John Jackson said the investment in upgrading storage and a new packing line will increase efficiencies and make the plant more sustainable.

“While this added investment will increase the plant’s capability and efficiencies, we still have a number of challenges before us in maintaining the competitiveness of the plant to ensure its long term survival,” he said.

“One of the challenges, in such a competitive market, is maintaining and increasing efficiencies to drive cost-reduction. Even in Northern Tasmania, we have to realize that we are competing in a global commodities market.

“In addition, rising local water and energy costs impact on the plant’s cost base reducing its overall profitability against global competitors.”

The Smithton plant processes potatoes for French Fries and potato products for the local and interstate markets.

 

Tasmanian Beer Trail leads tourists to brewers

The Tasmanian government has invested $250,000 in the Tasmanian Beer Tourism Plan, along with $100,000 from the Brewers Association, to promote and grow the industry.

The Tasmanian Beer Trail website, launched Thursday (25 June), is a guide to local breweries, tours, tastings, festivals, events and sales.

The website aims to capitalise on the emerging tourism niche, which attracted more than 125,000 travellers in the year to March according to the latest Tasmanian Visitor Survey.

The Brewers Association has congratulated the Tasmanian Government on the launch.

“It is fantastic to see the implementation of the Tasmanian Government’s plan to boost the tourism potential of the Tasmanian beer industry”, said Denita Wawn, CEO of the Brewers Association.

“The Brewers Association is looking forward to working with everyone in the Tasmanian beer industry to showcase beer and brewing and to highlight the Tasmanian beer tourism experience through the Beer Trail and expand our beer events”, she said.

“Tasmania holds a special place in the history of beer in Australia with Cascade Brewery in Hobart, established in 1832, being the oldest brewery in the country. There is also the James Boag’s brewery which was established in Launceston in 1881 and many other craft breweries.”

 

80 jobs axed at Hobart Cadbury factory

Mondelez
International has continued cost-cutting, with news this morning that it would
be shedding 20 per cent of the jobs at Claremont’s Cadbury factory.

The
ABC reports that workers were told at the beginning of their shift 80 jobs were
to be cut at the site, which in March withdrew a grant application worth $16 million for its visitor’s centre.

“In March this year we announced
a $20m investment in the Claremont site for this year as the start of a journey
to make Claremont more efficient and therefore sustainable,” Mondelez’s
local managing director Amanda Banfield said in a statement.

“As a result around 80 roles
will no longer be required; however we’re confident the majority of these will
be attained via temporary contract conclusions and voluntary
redundancies.”

The
AMWU said the $16 million grant application should be re-invested into Tasmania’s manufacturing sector.

“As we see major job losses all over Tasmania, we’re seeing the
State and Federal Governments just shrugging their shoulders. It’s not good
enough,” said the union’s state secretary, John Short, who added that the
factory had been operating for 90 years.

“Some of the people at
Cadbury — their parents and their grandparents worked here. But where are their
kids going to work?” he told the ABC.

Independent
Denison MP Andrew Wilkie said that the job losses would be hard on the Hobart
area.

“This is 20 per cent of the chocolate factory’s
staff, many of whom live in the Glenorchy city area which already has one of
the highest unemployment rates in the state,” he told The Mercury.

The
company has blamed a decline in sales for recent cuts.

Mondelez
announced a 3 per cent decline in revenue for the year to December earlier this
month.

However, net profits were up 43 per cent, following cost reductions such as a 60 per cent decline in R&D spending, 186
redundancies and a size reduction in its Freddo Frog and Cadbury family-sized
chocolate blocks. It also booked a $30 million tax credit.

Image: https://www.themercury.com.au/

Tasmanian businesses benefiting from Federal Government funding

Tasmanian businesses have received $13 million in grants from the Innovation and Investment Fund as part of the Federal Government’s strategy to bolster local industry.

When added to the $27 million in investment by local businesses, the grants will inject $40 million into the Tasmanian economy and create more than 400 new jobs.

“Forty one businesses across the State will receive from $50,000 to $1.4 million to strengthen their operations, making them more competitive by investing in technology, modernisation and building capacity,” Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane (pictured) said in a statement.

Macfarlane and local MPs Eric Hutchinson and Andrew Nikolic visited some of these businesses yesterday.

One of them, GJ Engineering Pty Ltd will receive $86,738 towards a $173,476 new vertical lathe to diversify and increase the capacity of their production-run machine parts manufacturing plant and general engineering service. This project will create five new ongoing positions.

"GJ's are going to be able to bring in a new piece of equipment, which they've been wanting to buy for some time, but with this grant they're now able to buy it sooner and able to put on two extra people, fully qualified tradespeople," Macfarlane said.

GJ Engineering’s owner Graeme Howard told the ABC it would mean the project would be started and completed sooner.

"I would have done it anyway, but what the grant will achieve is we'll be able to do it a lot sooner," he said.

"So we're starting now, where I probably wouldn't have started looking at this for another year or so.

"This has given me the opportunity to bring all my plans forward by at least 12 months, if not longer."

George Town Seafoods has also been successful with $420,000 towards a $1.3 million project to expand its salmon processing facility, creating an estimated 14 new jobs.

And National Pies in Hobart will receive $695,000 to purchase freezing equipment and manufacturing, supporting access to wider markets. The $1.8 million project will create 12 ongoing jobs.

 

Pressure grows for reallocation of $16 mill Cadbury grant

Tasmanian politicians are putting pressure on the Federal government to decide how to spend a $16 million grant promised for the Cadbury chocolate factory in Hobart.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott allocated the money during the 2013 federal election campaign to develop a new visitor centre, allowing Cadbury's popular factory tours to resume, ABC News reports.

Last week the chocolate-maker declined the funding because it could not commit to a 20 per cent increase in exports required by the Government as a condition of the grant.

Federal Employment Minister and Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz could not guarantee the money would be reallocated during this term of government.

"I would hope that this money could be allocated before the next election because it is important that we keep building on the recovery that is clearly place in Tasmania now," he said.

Premier Will Hodgman said he wanted a fast decision.

"We want to see it having maximum impact," he said.

"We look forward to the Federal Government commencing its process and concluding it at the earliest opportunity."

Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh said the Government was wasting time.

"There is absolutely no reason why this Abbott Government should be sitting on its hands any longer," she said.

"I think Tasmanians have waited long enough, it's been 18 months now."

Tourism Industry Council spokesman Luke Martin said a quick but smart investment was needed.

"What we need to avoid is a politically-driven direction of funding," he said.

 

Cadbury chocolate blocks get smaller

Blocks of Cadbury family-sized blocks of chocolate will be shrunk by one row, with high manufacturing costs blamed.

Fairfax Media reports that the chocolate market leader in Australia cited “unprecedented” cost pressures over the last 18 months, and chose to decrease size by roughly 10 per cent rather than raise prices.

The blocks would be reduced from the current 220 gram size to about 200 grams.

Confectionery companies worldwide were “feeling the squeeze” from higher input costs, Cadbury said on its website. Among these costs is the price of coca, which spiked last year and has contributed to difficulties for other confectioners such as Ernest Hiller, which was placed in administration last month.

“We’ve reached a point where we can no longer absorb these increasing costs into the price of our chocolate blocks,” explained Cadbury.

A backlash from chocolate fans was predicted.

"Clearly any chocolate lover is going to be a bit disappointed," conceded Amanda Banfield, managing director of parent company Mondelez International, in an interview with Fairfax.

Around 60 per cent of the company’s chocolate is sold in Australia through Coles and Woolworths.

The Cadbury factory at Claremont, Tasmania, produces about 80 million blocks per year, and has a planned $66 million upgrade. $16 million of this was pledged as government co-investment by then-opposition leader Tony Abbott during the 2013 federal election campaign.

Family-sized blocks of Cadbury were decreased in 2009 from 250 to 200 grams, note Lifehacker and others, before being increased to 220 grams in 2013 following consumer anger.

Image: https://www.glogster.com

World first sustainability achievement for Tassal

Tasmanian salmon producer, Tassal, has gained Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification across all its farming operations – a first for any salmon company in the world.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing animal food producing sector in the world, seeking to meet the growing demand for seafood, while reducing pressure on wild capture fisheries.

Tassal has been moving towards reaching full ASC certification since 2012, working in partnership with WWF-Australia.

WWF recognises ASC certification as the highest global standard available internationally for responsibly farmed seafood; providing third-party validation for practices which reduce impacts on the marine environment, protecting local surroundings and wildlife, and supporting local communities.

To meet the ASC’s responsible Salmon Standard, Tassal implemented upgrades including:

  • Reducing reliance of fish meal and fish oil in feed; resulting in reduced pressure on wild fish stocks and less pressure on the environment through improved feed formulations.
  • Removing the last copper treated nets from the water in June this year, replacing them with Kikko nets, made from semi-rigid polyester monofilament.
  • Creation of a full ASC dashboard which reports in real time any antibiotic use, wildlife interactions or unexplained fish loss across all of Tassal’s marine sites. All reports are available publically online and are fully audited.
  • Development of a new fish health department, including onsite lab, two vets, a fish health field officer and lab technician, as well as the development of a zero harm fish welfare program.

According to head of sustainability at Tassal, Linda Sams, the Australian aquaculture industry performs well in setting and implementing environmental regulations, but lacks transparency.

“Transparency was a key focus for us and is why we created our annual sustainability report, our ASC dashboard, and why we ensure our data is fully audited before being put into the public domain. This level of transparency is one which we feel genuinely sets us apart from others in the industry.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), more than half of fish consumed globally by 2021 will be farmed seafood.


 

Simplot at loggerheads with unions as protests continue

The future of Simplot’s Devonport plant again seems uncertain, with staff planning industrial action for later this week.

Negotiations between the manufacturer and unions have failed to bear any fruit, and industrial bans have commenced at the Tasmanian facility with further action planned at the NSW factory.

The ABC reports that unions are calling for a 12 percent pay rise over three years, while Simplot is offering four percent.

The company says it needs to restore competitiveness before it can consider such significant pay rises, referring to the industrial action as “reckless”.

Devonport workers will strike for four hours on Friday and Bathurst workers are planning a month of rolling overtime bans starting Thursday.

Late last month, managing director Terry O’Brien said the industrial action would have a significant impact on operations.

“The potential threat of industrial action has come at a time when harvesting is at its peak,” he told ABC News.

“We believe Simplot has proposed a very fair and reasonable offer for our employees considering the economic climate and industry challenges."

Simplot last year warned its employees that the Bathurst and Devonport facilities were under threat of closure, with the competitive industry and high Australian dollar rendering them uncompetitive.

"If insufficient opportunities are identified, we will be forced to close our Bathurst plant after the next corn season. Our Devonport plant will be required to produce a five year improvement plan with satisfactory outcomes or face the prospect of a longer term (three to five year) closure," O’Brien said at the time.

Just a few months after this announcement, it was confirmed the Devonport plant would remain open for the next three years, allowing it to fulfil new contracts made with both Coles and Woolworths.

The company did however state that the plant will need to make significant savings or it will potentially face closure by 2019.
 

Australia’s oldest dairy business bounces back from $9m loss

Van Diemen’s Land Company, Australia’s oldest dairy farming business, is back in the black.

After recording a $9 million loss last financial year, the company in north-west Tasmania has posted a $7.2 million profit, reports the ABC.

"A good combination of good season, good milk price, good work by our people and good strategies have contributed to a very strong result," CEO Trevor Westacott said.

Westacott said the company’s performance makes it more attractive to investors, and Van Diemen’s Land Copany is currently searching for investors for a $180 million expansion.

Despite the business’ success this year, the global dairy price has lost 40 percent, which will reduce milk prices.

"That's going to test us," Westacott said. "We're working at the moment at putting in place strategies to limit that, but we do have 70 percent of our prices fixed."
 

Environmentalists make waves for salmon producers

Environmentalists and the river abalone industry want expansion of the Tasmanian salmon industry stopped.

The groups say underwater vision taken around salmon farms, and a report by a marine scientist provided exclusively to the ABC's 7.30 program, show damage is being done to Tasmania's waterways, ABC News reports.

Head of sustainability at Tassal, the largest producer of salmon in Tasmania, Linda Sams said the company needs to expand to keep up with demand.

“We're looking to grow in a sustained kind of responsible way,” Sams said.

“By 2030 we talk about doubling our production, but there's a number of ways we'll do that.

“We'll do that through actually growing more fish, but we'll actually do that as well by growing fish more efficiently.”

Meanwhile, underwater footage filmed around several locations, including Hope Island, which is close to Tassal salmon farms, allegedly shows pollution from the cages.

Environment Tasmania's Rebecca Hubbard said the water was contaminated by faeces and uneaten feed falling from the cages.

“There is a big difference in the water clarity and there is dust that's kind of settling all over the rocks and the kelp,” she said.

“One of the big concerns that people have is this dust and pollution impacting on the marine life and the fish.

“The industry has expanded hugely in the last 20 years and unfortunately now that means that they are polluting and damaging Tasmanian waters.”

Chief executive of the Tasmanian Abalone Council Dean Lisson said the footage supported what divers had been seeing.

“The footage is showing quite clearly a layer of sediment in and around Hope Island which is just adjacent to Tassal's main operations, so the evidence is there as far as we're concerned,” Lisson said.

“The water is more milky, there's obviously more sediment in the water and in conjunction with that we've seen a reduction in the amount of abalone we've been able to harvest.”

Sams denied Tassal was polluting the waterways, and said a three-year study by the University of Tasmania showed Tassal was just one of many factors influencing the waterway.

But a new scientific report commissioned by Environment Tasmania found gaps in environmental monitoring.

“Reefs and kelp forests, which are critical habitats to hundreds of species including commercially significant rock lobster, abalone and other fish, are not actually being monitored,” Hubbarb said. 

Dr Hugh Kirkman, who conducted the report, recommended urgent research be conducted to measure the impact and recovery of marine life over time, increasing video monitoring from once a year to at least monthly, and a regional planning review.

 

Lark Distillery and Stone & Wood claim top business awards

A Byron Bay brewing company and a distillery in Tasmania were recognised last night at the Telstra Australian Business of the Year awards.

Held in Melbourne and attended by treasurer Joe Hockey, the awards reward Australian entrepreneurs and offering a chance for small to medium businesses to be recognised for their hard work and success.

Hobart’s Lark Distillery won the Small Business Award, with the judges saying Lark Distillery is a quintessential small family business success story that has become an international winner.

Stone & Wood Brewing Company was launched in Byron Bay in 2008 and last night took out the Regional Award.

Since its inception, the company has nearly double its turnover every year and this year it also added a second, larger brewery to its portfolio, located in Murwillumbah.

The awards’ highest honour, the Telstra Australian Business of the Year award, went to REDARC, a South Australian manufacturer of high end components.

To see a full list of winners, click here.

 

Tasmania’s Whisky Centre for Excellence opens

Tasmania’s Whisky Centre for Excellence opened its doors to the public for the first time today.

The centre which is located at Redlands in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley has been designed to add value to the whisky industry through a number of research initiatives, including how different types of barley impact on flavour, ABC News reports.

The Centre is in partnership with Natural Resource Management South and the University of Tasmania.

Owner of the Redlands’ Estate, Peter Hope believes that the new centre will have a great impact on export sales of whisky.

Tasmania has been known for producing some of the world’s finest single malt whisky for some time, but it wasn’t until recently that Australia’s most southern state well and truly cemented its place on the world whisky stage.

Tasmanian small batch distillery, Sullivan’s Cove took home the award for the world’s best single malt at the World Whiskies Award for its French Oak Cask single malt, beating high profile entrants The Glenlivet, Bunnahabain, and Japanese Yamazaki for the award.

 

Tassie’s sparkling wines on show at new event [video]

Effervescence Tasmania will showcase and celebrate Tasmania’s sparkling wines on 31 October and 1 November.

The inaugural event will see Tasmania’s sparkling wine makers conduct tastings and masterclasses for both consumers and industry. The masterclasses will be moderated by Tyson Stelzer, the Wine Communicators of Australia Australian Wine Communicator of the Year 2013 and the panel will comprise some of Tasmania’s leading sparkling wine makers including Andrew Pirie (Apogee), Ed Carr (House Of Arras), Natalie Fryar (Jansz) and Loic Le Calvez (Clover Hill) who will discuss Tasmania’s terroir, wine styles and vinification methods.

“It’s a great privilege to be involved with the inaugural Effervescence Tasmania. This is no generic promotional event, but rather an exclusive, invitation-only showcase of the finest sparkling houses of Tasmania,” Stelzer said.

The event will be held on the grounds of Josef Chromy and will commence with the Grand Degustation Dinner on Friday 31 October, before the main tastings on 1 November.

Additional events include master classes and tastings with the Telstra Australian Business of the Year – Bruny Island Cheese Co, as well as Tas Prime Oysters and Huon Aquaculture.

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For more information, head to www.effervescencetasmania.com.

 

Tasmanian oyster farms hit by shellfish toxin

The discovery of a shellfish toxin on Tasmania’s east coast has resulted in two oyster growers halting production.

Health authorities have warned that shellfish from both the Great Oyster Bay area and Norfolk Bay in the state’s south have tested positive to a potentially fatal toxin, ABC News Reports.

Stuart Heggie state manager for environmental health at the Tasmanian Health Department said that none of the affected shellfish have been put out on the Tasmanian market, although two growers in the Great Oyster Bay area will be unable to harvest until the toxin levels drop.

The Seafood Industry council’s Neil Stump said that at present, the toxin is very localised and will impact on oyster growers namely in the Great Oyster Bay area.

"They have to cease production and can't sell any product so it will impact directly on them," Stump said.

"Other growers in the adjacent areas, where we've also detected the presence of this algae, are on a watch and alert at this stage."

In 2013 the Tasmanian oyster industry was hit by a number of contamination scares including an outbreak of Norovirus which resulted in sixty people falling sick after eating oysters from the state’s south, in addition to an algal bloom scare in the Great Oyster Bay area in 2012 also impacted on the region.