Victorian government backs another horticultural project, she’s apples

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th October 2012

Victoria’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan last week welcomed the announcement (on 26 September 2012) of a $17 million investment in major infrastructure improvements for Tynong’s apple industry that will create up to 100 jobs in the region. Tynong is situated 66 km south-east of Melbourne’s central business district spanning the Bass and western Gippsland regions.

Mr Ryan and local politician Liberal Member for Bass Ken Smith joined representatives of Battunga Orchards and Bon View Orchards in Tynong to announce Nine Mile Fresh, a joint venture to establish a state-of-the-art world-class apple sorting, grading and packaging facility.

“This visionary project will help strengthen the competitive position of Victoria’s apple growers, and demonstrates the sort of drive and creative business flair that the Victoran Liberal-National Coalition Government is seeking to encourage,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Nine Mile Fresh project will create an additional 50 new jobs in the first year of operation and up to 100 jobs after five years, which will provide a significant boost for the local economy.

“The investment in new technology will allow the end product to be far more price-competitive, particularly against imported goods,” Mr Ryan said.

Member for Bass Ken Smith said the project would help strengthen Victoria’s apple growing industry and create new opportunities for smaller orchardists.

“Currently, major supermarkets buy from a limited number of growers in order to simplify supply chains and minimise buying prices. Also, many smaller orchardists have not been able to afford the capital infrastructure needed to meet the quality and volume requirements of the major supermarkets, ” Mr Smith said.

“The Nine Mile Fresh project will reorganise the currently fragmented supply chain and allow access for up to 50 small orchardists on a contract basis, supporting growers and strengthening the local industry against imported apples,” he added.

Victorian government grant

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had supported this innovative project through a Business Assistance Program grant from the Department of Business and Innovation.

“The government is happy to support projects that demonstrate such positive benefits for the region and the wider sustainability of apple processing in Victoria. The Coalition Government’s overall economic strategy recognises that strong growth and prosperity across Victoria will need well targeted and practical investment on the ground,” Mr Ryan said.

Concerns about imported apples

Since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision 2 years ago which ruled that New Zealand apples could be sold in Australia irrespective of Biosecurity concerns by the Australian apple-growing industry, there have been heightened concerns about the prospects of the Australian market being “flooded” by imported apples. Competitively-priced apples might be sourced from New Zealand, China, USA, Chile and elsewhere. The Victorian government support for the apple production infrastructure in Victoria may bolster confidence and instill a stronger positive outlook from potential investors and other financial backers for the Australian horticulture sector.