A beer lover’s guide to the High Country Hops Festival

Providing a great opportunity to check out all the brewers of the region within the one venue, the High Country Hops Festival is coming to Beechworth, Victoria on March 24-25.

Held at Bridge Road Brewery, this year the festival will be launching a range of unique products that are a must for any craft beer lover to try. To get the most out of the day, below are some of the highlights at The High Country Hops Festival that are sure to entice and surprise those familiar with the craft beer market in Victoria.

The Harvest by Bridge Road Brewers

Bridge Road Brewers will be bringing their wet hop beer ‘The Harvest’ to the festival this year. Harnessing the fact that wet hops bypass the usual drying and pelletizing processes, expect The Harvest to have a fuller flavour than a normal craft beer, with added citrus aromas for that summer touch.

Hop Trial Bar

Love to try something new? Then make sure to head to the Hop Trial Bar to taste four unique beers made exclusively for the festival. Each of the beers are made using the same recipe, and are identical except for the hop variety used. Guests have the chance to vote on their favourite hop variety and provide their own flavour descriptors and thoughts about each one.

Dry Hopped Gin

Dry hopped gin, a creative collaboration between Bridge Road Brewery and Reed & Co Distillery. Named ‘Lupugin,’ the product is juniper driven with a double serve of galaxy hops, dessert lime & Mt pepper distilled with Australian grain spirit. Expect to taste those hop notes familiar to the beer-know-it-all.

Who’s Ros & Trevor North East Ale

Though not quite ready for this year’s festival, Blizzard Brewing Co will be launching their new hop beer made exclusively with freshly harvested wet galaxy hops from the Rostrevor Hop Gardens in Ovens. The local provenance of these ingredients highlights the freshness of the hops and make it one of the company’s fastest selling brews.

King River Brewing Chinook Smash IPA

In celebration of the annual hop harvest, King River Brewing has collaborated with their local artisan hop farmer to release a very special wet hopped Chinook Smash IPA (Single Malt, Single Hop). This beer can only be made at this time of year, with the hops being picked in the morning of the brew day and used only an hour later.

New food manufacturing jobs for Melbourne’s north

Australian smallgoods manufacturer D’Orsogna is creating more than 100 new jobs, including those suitable for former auto workers, through its $61 million expansion in Mickleham.

Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll turned the first sod at the site of the company’s new factory in the Merrifield Business Park, which will create more than 50 additional jobs during construction.

The expansion, made possible through the State Government’s Local Industry Fund for Transition, will include a new purpose-built facility that includes cooking, smoking, cooling, storing, slicing and packaging equipment.

The new facility will make use of the latest developments in processing and packaging technology, which will advance the company’s growth strategy in both domestic and export markets.

D’Orsogna is a family owned manufacturer of ham, bacon and other smallgoods, established in 1949. The company supplies Woolworths, Coles, Metcash and various food service businesses across Australia.

The food and fibre sector is Victoria’s biggest goods export sector, exporting nearly $12 billion annually. The sector contributes approximately five per cent of Victoria’s GSP and employs over 193,000 people.

The transition grants help businesses generate new investment and create jobs for retrenched workers in areas affected by the closure of car manufacturing.

The initiative has supported 38 projects so far, which are expected to create close to 1,000 jobs – more than 800 of which are suitable for former automotive workers.

“The D’Orsogna expansion is creating jobs, boosting the food and fibre sector and further cements Victoria as the home of manufacturing in Australia,” said Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll.

“This massive expansion will boost the local economy and create much needed jobs in Melbourne’s North.”



Melbourne’s new international airport set to export fresh produce

The new international Airport at Avalon will not only create more than 200 jobs and increase international visitor numbers, but also be capable of exporting 14 tonnes of Victorian fresh produce every day.

According to the Victorian Government, the change will help cement Victoria’s position as the nation’s food and fibre export hub.

Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll joined Minister for Tourism and Member for Lara John Eren to announce Air Asia will fly twice daily between Avalon and Kuala Lumpur, with flights expected by the end of 2018.

The project will see up to 220,000 international passengers land in Avalon each year, opening up Geelong and the Great Ocean Road to even more international visitors.

This project will have significant economic and social benefits for regional Victoria through increased tourism, new employment opportunities, and improved access to international flights.

The Labor Government has been steadfast in its support for Avalon – helping secure Jetstar’s future at the airport and investing $1.5 million in infrastructure works at the new industrial precinct, which will eventually be home to 750 new jobs, including Cotton On Group’s purpose-built distribution centre.

“This is a big day for Avalon and a game changer for regional Victoria.  We’re proud to support this project that will bring more international visitors to our state and see more quality produce exported to the world stage,” said Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford.

MEGATRANS2018: Take part in a Global Logistics Revolution

Fonterra to expand dairy operations in Victoria, Tasmania

Fonterra Australia is matching its push to secure additional milk volumes with more than $165 million in capital expenditure in this financial year at key sites in Victoria and Tasmania in a move to increase capacity and meet unique demand opportunities for dairy.

The investment was first signalled by the dairy co-operative’s CEO Theo Spierings in November last year. It is made up of new investment of around AU$130 million to put in 500 million litres of additional capacity, and a further AU$35 million for a range of annual site improvements as part of its regular capital investment plan in Australia.

The expansion includes a $125 million expansion at Fonterra Australia’s flagship Stanhope cheese facility in northern Victoria which will double the size of the cheese plant; and a $12 million investment in Tasmania, which includes expansion to its Wynyard cheese plant and an increase in lactose processing capacity at Spreyton.

In addition, the company has announced a further AU$7 million expansion at the Darnum nutritionals plant in Gippsland as well as the installation of two robotic palletisers in Bayswater in eastern Victoria to improve efficiency; as well as $13.5 million for projects at Cobden and another AU$8.6 million at Dennington in western Victoria.

René Dedoncker, Managing Director of Fonterra Australia, says customers want trusted supply options out of Australia, especially for products like cheese, whey and nutritional powders which are in high demand.

“We have a clear strategy that is delivering sustainable returns. To create value, we need to invest to stay ahead of the demand curve. These investments support our aim to secure positive returns back to our farmers on both sides of the Tasman.”

He said Fonterra Australia will play to its strengths in cheese, whey, nutritionals, and butter, increasing production capacity to meet rising domestic and global demand, but filling its expanded capacity would mean securing more supply.

Victorian food and fibre exports hit record high

Victoria has set a new record with food and fibre exports reaching $12.8 billion – the biggest total in the state’s history.

According to the 2016-17 Food and Fibre Export Performance Report released today, Victoria accounts for 25 per cent of Australia’s food and fibre exports, despite taking up just 3 per cent of the country’s land mass.

A key strength of the Victorian food and fibre sector is its diversity and reputation for producing high quality, clean and healthy food for key export regions such as Asia.

In 2016-17, Victoria accounted for 79 per cent of Australia’s dairy exports, 55 per cent of wool exports, 46 per cent of horticultural exports and 38 per cent of prepared food exports.

Prepared foods had a strong year, earning $1.5 billion, increasing by $164 million or 12 per cent last financial year.

Grains also had an excellent year, with an all-time record grain harvest, and exports valued at $1.8 billion in 2016-17 – an increase of $839 million or 87 per cent on the previous financial year.

“The resilience and ingenuity of our primary producers and food manufacturers continues to make Victoria the top food and fibre exporting state in the nation,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.

“I congratulate all our food and fibre producers, manufacturers and exporters for their hard work and significant contribution to the state of Victoria.”

Victoria launches Wine Industry Development Strategy

Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford has launched the Wine Industry Development Strategy and round two of the Wine Growth Fund.

The four year strategy will help winemakers capture new opportunities and address challenges the industry has experienced in trading and production over the past decade.

The strategy is structured around four key ‘platforms’ which address issues such as developing profitable and sustainable export markets, increasing industry coordination, and adapting to business and production challenges.

In addition, the Government is backing the strategy with the Wine Growth Fund, which supports projects from the vineyard to the cellar door to grow Victoria’s wine industry.

The second round of the Wine Growth Fund announced today will see a total of $893,000 provided to the wine industry across the state. Grants will align with industry priorities as reflected in the strategy.

“Victoria’s wine is among the world’s best, producing a broad range of wine styles in unique and diverse geographic settings, making it well placed for a successful future,” said Pulford.

Wine Victoria Chair, Damien Sheehan said that the strategy was more than 18 months in the making and mapped the way industry and government had agreed to work together to ensure Victoria was the best wine state in Australia.

“The industry has gone through some difficult times in recent years but all the signs are that we are well on the way to blowing the bad times out of the water,” he said

“We have increasing grape prices, record exports into China and a growing number of visitors heading to cellar doors – this strategy aims to ensure the winemakers and grapegrower can make the most of these opportunities.”

SPC continues involvement with School Breakfast Clubs Program

Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino visited SPC Ardmona in Shepparton yesterday to highlight the Goulburn Valley company’s contribution to the Victorian Government’s School Breakfast Clubs Program.

Run by Foodbank Victoria, the $13.7 million program provides breakfast to 25,000 students at 500 disadvantaged primary schools across the state.

The vast bulk of the food products served up every day of the school year comes from Victorian businesses like SPC Ardmona. The company’s signature canned fruit has been a staple of the Breakfast in Schools program and in 2017 SPC’s baked beans and fruit cups were added to the menu.

In 2017, more than 23 tonnes of SPC Baked Beans and 109 tonnes of fruit products will be provided to students through the School Breakfast Clubs Program.

“The visit to the SPC Ardmona factory was another reminder of how valuable our Breakfast in Schools program is. Not only are we making sure Victorian kids don’t head to classroom with an empty stomach, we are supporting local jobs in the region,” said Merlino (pictured).

According to Reg Weine, Managing Director of SPC, the company is thrilled to be part of the program.

“We thank the Minister for Education for visiting SPC today to reinforce its commitment to the company and for continuing to purchase SPC products for this fantastic initiative,” said Weine.

“SPC will continue to develop innovative and convenient food products that meet or exceed the nutritional guidelines and that kids of all ages love to eat”.

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.

McCain worker burned by hot oil as industrial action continues

A worker at McCain’s Ballarat factory was burnt by hot oil last week because the replacement worker from New Zealand failed to properly clean a fryer, the AMWU says.

As the Courier reports, the injured worker was taken to hospital with minor burns and discharged shortly after.

According to AMWU organiser Angela McCarthy, the worker’s arms were injured because of a carbon build-up in a pipe which had been cleaned properly.

“They didn’t clean the fryer properly so when our guys came in last week and a pipe burst and one of our members got sprayed with hot oil on his arm which could easily have been his face,” Ms McCarthy said.

“The people who were running it while our stoppage was taking place clearly weren’t able to run the place.

“They were able to produce very, very little.”

Ballarat plant manager Karl Thin said the replacement workers were qualified to do these jobs.

“The staff who are at our plant this week from New Zealand are fully qualified for the roles they are fulfilling, because they perform the same roles in our plants in New Zealand,” he said.

“Our employees often travel between our plants to share information or help cover outages, so this is not unusual for them.”

According to the AMWU, the industrial action concerns 10 open claims, including just one cost claim regarding increased sick leave for workers on 12-hour shifts.

Image: ABC


Victoria plates up Food & Beverage Trade Week

Food & Beverage Trade Week (FBTW) – the state’s premier inbound trade mission targeting the global food and beverage market – is in full swing  with more than 150 leading international buyers and investors visiting more than 100 local companies at the Fine Food Australia trade show in Melbourne.

Delegates from across Asia, the Middle East and the Americas are taking the opportunity to meet with Victoria’s world class dairy, meat and processed food producers in the state’s prime agricultural regions including Gippsland, the Goulburn Valley, the Yarra Valley and greater Geelong.

The site tour program has been tailored to suit the interests of the visiting delegates and will allow them to experience first-hand the regions where Victoria’s food is grown, processed and manufactured.

They will meet with local industry leaders such as Burra Foods, Pactum, Tatura Milk, Coffee Mio, and Heritage Fine Chocolates.

The program also includes one-on-one business matching sessions and a range of networking events, supporting Victorian companies to establish and strengthen international trade relationships, secure new investments and grow their businesses.

With a global reputation for producing and exporting premium clean and green products, Victoria is Australia’s leading exporter of dairy, horticultural products, prepared foods and vegetables.

The state’s food and fibre sector now employs more than 190,000 Victorians and in 2014–15 food and fibre exports were valued at $11.6 billion, an increase of $282 million compared to the previous year.

Across the same period, the state accounted for 83 per cent of Australia’s dairy exports, 48 per cent of horticultural exports and 41 per cent of prepared food exports.

FBTW is part of a four-year $12 million Andrews Labor Government initiative to build a strong and sustainable inbound trade mission program that allows us to bring investors from key international markets to our doorstep.

“Our targeted inbound trade missions have proven to be hugely successful, with 2015 Victoria’s biggest export year yet and even more success stories coming out of this year’s programs,” said Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Philip Dalidakis.

“We’re bringing the world to our doorstep so that more Victorian businesses have more opportunities to form sustainable partnerships that will help them grow, create jobs and strengthen our local economies.”

Murray Goulburn axes 54 jobs

Dairy processor, Murray Goulburn announced to staff yesterday that it will be cutting 54 positions from its Victorian operations.

The company’s Leongatha facility was hit the hardest with a loss of 23 jobs, while Kiewa lost 13, Maffra 11, Cobram four and Rochester three, The Weekly Times reports.

A spokesperson for Murray Goulburn said that the company was focusing on its primary goal of delivering a sustainable increase to its farmgate milk price, and that operational efficiencies are constantly under review.

“We continually review our operations to improve efficiency, productivity and global competitiveness, including investing in new technologies, redesigning workflow and work patterns, improving line efficiencies and cross-skilling,” she said.

The spokesperson said that MG will consider a range of options for employees including redundancy, potential redeployment and current vacancies. All staff impacted by the structural changes will receive their full entitlements and have access to counselling and career transitioning services.


Pronto e Fresco enters voluntary administration

Melbourne-based maker of antipasto products Pronto e Fresco entered voluntary administration on Wednesday and is up for sale.

Smart Company reports that the 100 per cent Australian-owned company, which was established in 2000, produces vegetable products including semi-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, grilled mushrooms, grilled eggplant, grilled pumpkin and other unique char-grilled and marinated vegetables.

Pronto e Fresco counts the major Australian supermarkets as well as caterers, hospitals, universities, restaurants and hotels among its customers.

Andrew Yeo and David Vasudevan of Pitcher Partners have been appointed as administrators to the business and Keith Crawford and Thea Eszenyi from McGrathNicol have commenced a sale campaign.

The company owns a manufacturing facility and plant in Broadmeadows which will be included in the sale. It currently employs 70 workers and will continue to trade through the voluntary administration process.

Smith told SmartCompany it is too early to specify the factors that lead to the business entering voluntary administration.

Image: Pronto e Fresco

Applications for $20 million grants program in Victoria opens

Applications for a four year, $20 million grants and scholarship program are now open to Victorian agri-food producers and manufacturers.

The grants and scholarships, provided by Food Source Victoria are aimed at helping increase exports, build capability and create jobs in regional Victoria.

Executive Director of Trade and Investment, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Tim Ada said the world’s middle class was growing rapidly, particularly in Asia and Victorian farmers and food manufacturers are well placed to meet the demand for quality, clean and safe products.

“Food and agriculture exports were worth $11.4 billion in 2013-14, however exporting is sometimes challenging and it can be difficult for agri-food businesses to not only access international markets but to keep abreast of consumer trends and requirements,” Ada said.

“Through Food Source Victoria, $18 million in grants is available to support agri-food businesses across regional Victoria to work together, potentially implementing a diverse range of activities and projects to overcome some of these challenges and drive exports and jobs growth.”

“An additional $2 million is available to help regional Victorians working in the agri-food sector to enhance their entrepreneurial, business and export skills, through accredited training and/or professional development, to help accelerate business growth.”

Mr Ada said at least $1 million of the scholarship fund had been allocated to support women in regional Victoria to develop their skills and capabilities.

Program guidelines (including eligibility criteria) and application forms are available here.

Food Source Victoria is funded through the Victorian Government’s $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund and is managed by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.


Cold Logic wins Melbourne Market contract

Privately owned refrigeration firm Cold Logic has won a multi-million dollar contract at the new Melbourne Market.

The contract involves establishing cool rooms and temperature controlled warehouses at the new market site in Epping, which is expected to be operational around August this year.

The new market is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Victoria and is located on 70 hectares of land close to the Tullamarine airport and nearby arterial roads.

When open, it will have more than 100,000 square metres of warehousing and replace the current market at West Melbourne, which houses around 3000 businesses employing 7500 staff.

Cold Logic Partner, Eddie Lane, said site work had commenced and was being undertaken on a very tight deadline.

“We have thrown additional resources into the project to meet the tight deadline, but are confident we will deliver the state-of-the-art cooling facilities on time,” he said.

“The Melbourne Market is crucial to Australia’s fresh produce industry.

“We are responsible for ensuring fruit and vegetables are held in the best possible condition before they are sold to independent greengrocers, supermarkets, restaurants and food processors and ultimately ending up on the forks of Victorian consumers.”

Victoria is a key growth market for Cold Logic. It currently has 12 staff based in Melbourne, but plans to expand to more than 25 within the next five years.

Over its 30 years in business, Cold Logic has constructed more than 280,000sqm of cold storage facilities – nearly 14 MCG’s.

Major clients include Coopers Brewery, Thomas Foods International, Arnotts, Pernod Ricard Winemakers and Aldi. Currently, 40% of Cold Logic’s clients are located outside its home state of South Australia.


Methyl Bromide: its use in keeping Australian strawberries clean

Yes, methyl bromide is a very effective fumigant and ozone depleter, but it’s playing a big role in keeping Australia’s strawberries disease-free.

“The strawberry fruit industry has absolutely nothing to do with methyl bromide. Absolutely nothing,” says George Weda, managing director of Toolangi Certified Strawberry Runner Growers Cooperative in Victoria.

“We are strawberry plant propagators; we grow strawberry plants and as part of that production cycle, we use a fumigant called methyl bromide. We use that under a Critical Use Nomination, from the United Nations, The Montreal Protocol,” Weda says.

Recent attention on the use of the fumigant in the Toolangi region has led some to assume that the strawberries, too, must be toxic.

But the gas is being used to fumigate the soil and is not used on the strawberry fruit.

“Methyl bromide is only used to fumigate the soil prior to growing the strawberry mother plants that produce the runners, which are then bare rooted and transported to another site to replant, which will, some 6 months later bear marketable fruit, the whole process takes over 18 months from the time of the soil fumigation,” says Kevin Bartolo, Australia/Pacific Region manager for Mebrom. Mebrom is one of the companies that imports methyl bromide into Australia for Quarantine and Pre-shipment use only, which is exempt from any bans or restrictions under the Montreal Protocol.

“So there’s no connection between methyl bromide used under the Critical Use Exemption to fumigate the soil for runner production and the fruit itself. Absolutely none,” he says.

“Under normal circumstances, methyl bromide doesn’t taint food. There are set Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and technically those limits should never be breached because we’ve found that you would probably have to treat at relatively high dose rates, three times, before you even start approaching those MRL limits. Realistically, you only have to treat once with methyl bromide.”

In the case of the Toolangi certified strawberry runner growers, Weda says licenced contractors are brought in for the fumigation around April/May.

Once the gas is injected into the soil, it is immediately covered in plastic, trapping the gas. The gas then kills off soil pathogens and breaks down. After a week or so, the plastic is removed.

“To be absolutely on the safe side, within two or three weeks you could plant stuff in and it would grow, but if you were to pull the plastic off and plant immediately afterwards, there’s still residues in the soil and it would kill your plant,” Weda says.

The soil is then left until about August/September, when the strawberry “mother plant” is planted.

Those plants then grow and produce strawberry runners. One mother plant might make 100 “daughters” (the plants that come from strawberry runners) and those daughters are harvested the following April. Those plants are then sold to the fruit growers, who plant them in April/May and they will then get fruit from those anywhere from two months later.

Methyl bromide and the environment

Methyl bromide is an extremely effective broad spectrum fumigant which is used to treat against pests and diseases such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes and insects.

But is also very effective in destroying stratospheric ozone. In fact, it is 60 times more effective than the other major ozone depleter, stratospheric chlorine.[1]

Under the Montreal Protocol, Australia agreed to phase out methyl bromide. From 1 January, 2005, all uses of the chemical, other than for quarantine and pre shipment (QPS) or feedstock applications were prohibited in Australia. However, some 'critical use exemptions' have been allowed by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and can be granted to sectors where there are no technically or economically feasible alternatives to methyl bromide.

And that’s where the strawberry runner growers at Toolangi, in Victoria's Yarra Valley come in. Each year the strawberry runner growers have to apply for critical use exemption.

The strawberry runners in the Yarra Valley are planted in a very heavy soil and according to Bartolo, “to date, there are no registered fumigants out there that have proven to be totally effective. It’s used on the soil only, to control macrophomina and fusarium and other fungal diseases primarily, plus if there happens to be nematodes there and exerts good control on those diseases which, if not controlled, they would literally decimate the industry.” 

The remainder of methyl bromide use in Australia is under quarantine direction on items such as imported or exported grains, imported fruit and timber, where there is deemed to be a quarantine risk.

Why not phase it out completely?

While there are alternatives to methyl bromide, they are not as effective.

“A lot of countries around the world are signatories to the Montreal Protocol so they’ve undertaken to phase out methyl bromide when a suitable alternative for each industry can be identified and used,” Weda says.

“We’ve been looking for over 15 years now…all around the world the strawberry fruit growers and the strawberry runner growers have been looking for alternatives and there isn’t one out there which is as good as methyl bromide, so we can still use it under this critical use nomination.

“If they were to take it away from us tomorrow, we just would not be able to produce the healthy plants that we do now, which means yields would go down, which means we couldn’t supply the fruit growers with a top class, A-grade, healthy plant. It would have some disease on it because there’s nothing else to control the disease like we’re doing now.

“The fruit grower would get those plants already with some level of disease in them so therefore their production would go down, and there’s potential we would get more imports from overseas. Fruit would have the potential to come in from overseas and ironically, most of those strawberries would have been grown on fumigated soil with methyl bromide.”

One alternative to methyl bromide for soil fumigation doesn’t work in heavy soils.

“For the strawberry runner producers there’s not much point in applying a chemical if it’s not going to work in heavy soils,” Bartolo says.

“You’ve got to balance the good with the bad. It’s no good looking at something and saying ‘that’s toxic’ and it’s a dangerous chemical. Well unfortunately, if you want to kill bacteria, diseases, insects and nematodes, you’ve got to have something that does kill. At this stage there isn’t much of an option. People are looking at other options but over the 20 years there have been lots that have come and gone…but the reality is, sooner or later along the line, resistance raises its head. Once you have resistance issues for a given chemical, it ceases to be fully effective.

“At the current stage, without there being a viable alternative, which the chemical industry have been looking for a viable alternative for 20 years now, [a complete phase out] would probably lead to an outbreak or spread of macrophomina and fusarium, wilt diseases in strawberries, which would literally decimate the industry. It basically would take them to the point where they would lose viability and probably end up destroying the industry.

“It’s a matter of balancing the good that methyl bromide has done against the environmental consequences. We know now that the environmental consequences are minimal,” he says.

According to a CSIRO report (Methyl Bromide: Past, Present & Future Impacts on Stratospheric Ozone) provided to Food Magazine by Bartolo, future regulation of the remaining methyl bromide production/consumption in fumigation will have little impact on ozone recovery.

The report suggests that if as of 1 January, 2015, there was zero production or emissions of methyl bromide from fumigation, the ozone would recover to 1980 levels just one year earlier than predicted if the QPS levels remained constant.

Historically, the largest man-made source of methyl bromide is from fumigation, where about 50,000 tonnes per year were emitted to the atmosphere between 1995 and 1998 from non-quarantine/pre-shipment (non-QPS) methyl bromide use (80 percent of which was largely from soil fumigation) and QPS use (20 percent: largely grain and wood products fumigation at pre-shipment). But since the introduction of the Montreal Protocol restrictions on the consumption of methyl bromide for non-QPS use, this total fumigation source reduced to about 10,000 tonnes by 2012.

While reductions in future total emissions of all ozone depleting substances could significantly hasten ozone recovery, methyl bromide will play a minor role.

It has both man-made and natural sources and according to the report, the scientific understanding of the global methyl bromide budget is not balanced, with current identified sinks (which absorb or break down the chemical) exceeding current identified sources by over 30,000 tonnes – nearly 40 percent of all identified sources. This imbalance has persisted from pre-Montreal Protocol phase-out to recent times (2012), implying there are unidentified, probably natural methyl bromide sources.

“Methyl bromide traditionally, and continues to be the mainstay and one of the most potent weapons against exotic disease incursions, so in other words they’re protecting Australia and Australia, like America and like New Zealand are relatively young countries that don’t have a lot of the diseases that exist in some of the more well-established continents…so we’ve got a lot more to protect,” Bartolo says.

“Virtually all the ozone depletion gains have been courtesy of the reduction of fumigation using methyl bromide but now we’re down the stage where it nearly makes no difference.

“It doesn’t make sense, especially when people’s livelihoods and Australian trade [is on the line]. Our image is clean and green because we haven’t got a lot of diseases and insects and organisms that they have overseas, if we didn’t have methyl bromide, we wouldn’t be able to make that claim.”

[1] P. Fraser FTSE, N. Derek, P. Krummel & Dr P. Steele. (2014). Methyl Bromide: Past, Present & Future Impacts on Stratospheric Ozone, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship.


Manufacturing error sees David Jones chocolate eggs recalled

David Jones has recalled its Hotel Chocolat milk-free
chocolate eggs, because there is a chance they may contain milk.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the 400 gram eggs from
Hotel Chocolat had the “potential presence” of milk, the NSW Food Authority

The eggs are sold in the ACT, NSW, Queensland, Victoria
and WA.

“The product is advertised as ‘milk free’ but may
contain traces of milk as it was manufactured in a factory that uses dairy in
other products,” advises the NSW Food Authority.

Consumers can return the eggs and get a full refund.

Image: https://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au

Tartar products maker turns to bioenergy, saves $2 m in a year on gas

Australian Tartaric Products grape waste-powered biomass
reactor has saved the company over $2 million in power bills so far, according
to the company.

BRW reports that the reactor, which is fueled by winemaking
waste products – including grape marc (skins and pips), which was previously used as
compost – was completed last year at a cost of around $10 million.

ATP chairman Malcolm Taylor said that feasibility studies
began in 2008 as rising gas prices began to bite. Plans were put on hold due to
the Global Financial Crisis, but by 2011 it was important that action be taken.

“As the cost of gas went up and up, the cost of production
was going up and squeezing the margin considerably,” Taylor told BRW.

“All the indications were that it was going to potentially
become uneconomic to produce.”

The investment was assisted by grants worth $1.7 million from the federal government and $1.8 million from the Victorian government.

According to the company, in its first year of operation the
biomass reactor has saved around $2 million in gas costs as well as producing
60 per cent of the ATP’s electricity.

The Colignan (near Mildura) plant in north-west Victoria has
operated since 1991 and makes natural tartaric acid, natural cream of tartar and food grade spirit, supplied to the wine industry.

WCB to acquire Lion cheese business

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) has entered into an agreement to acquire the Everyday Cheese Business (EDC Business) of Lion-Dairy & Drinks (Lion) based in Victoria, Australia.

EDC Business was bought for $137.5 million, and includes $106.5 million of inventory. The is expected to close towards the beginning of May 2015.

The transaction is subject to WCB shareholder approval, but Saputo, which holds 87.92 percent of WBC’s shares has already indicated its support of the transaction and said it will vote in favour of the transaction.

Lion holds 10.22 percent of the shares in WCB. The Directors of WCB intend to recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the transaction.

WCB plans to hold a shareholder meeting to be held in late April or early May to consider the transaction.

The EDC Business' operations include cutting and wrapping, distribution, sales & marketing and intellectual property associated with the COON, Cracker Barrel, Mil Lel and Fred Walker brands. The business generates annual sales of approximately $160 million and employs approximately 170 people. The cut and wrap operations of the EDC Business are located in a building owned by WCB which is adjacent to WCB's cheese manufacturing facility at Allansford.

The transaction will enable WCB to increase its presence in consumer branded everyday cheese products segment in Australia.


Dairy Bell scooped up by Bon Appetit

Melbourne ice-cream maker Dairy Bell, who was set to close its two factories today, has been saved by gelato, ice cream and frozen desserts company Bon Appetit.

Dairy Bell will instead open a new store near its old East Malvern manufacturing plant, Fairfax media reports.

Bon Appetit Australia has paid an undisclosed sum for the Dairy Bell brands, recipes and five Melbourne shops.

Dairy Bell products will be manufactured by Bon Appetit in Reservoir, recipes unchanged, and sold to IGA and independent supermarkets, organic stores, cafes and restaurants.

Dairy Bell announced last month it would close, blaming supermarket ice cream wars and loss of margin as its reasons, in an announcement on its website from its directors and founders.

“Supermarket ice cream wars have cost the retailer profit and the manufacturer loss of margin and have reduced our capacity to recover costs for some 4 years now with our capital being eroded year by year,” the statement reads.

“We tried our own shops with a terrific customer response however, the weekend trade (our best time) made losses due to the high weekend cost of labour in the stores.

Bon Appetit managing director Lou Da Lozzo said the company had started discussions with the owners of Dairy Bell about a month ago and signed off on the deal last week.

A new store would be opened about a 10 minutes' walk from the old store, Da Lozzo said.


Capilano Honey to reopen Maryborough factory

The Central Goldfields Shire says Capilano's decision to reopen a factory at Maryborough, in central Victoria, will have significant economic benefits for the town.

The facility closed down in 2012 but honey producer Capilano said it now had plans to process 30 per cent of its products in Maryborough, ABC News reports.

Mayor Wendy McIvor said Maryborough had struggled with job losses, but Capilano's move showed efforts to attract more businesses to the region were working.

"We're trying to establish a food manufacturing hub and we do whatever we can to attract these businesses and support them in developing or redeveloping as it is the case with Capilano in our community," she said.

According to the Maryborough Advertiser, the recommissioning of its facilities comes as a result of the company’s decision to acquire the assets of Victorian honey packer Yellow Pty Ltd, trading as Chandlers Honey.

It has been about three years since the Maryborough factory had staff.