Grantham cannery sets Asian exports mid-term priority

OVERSEAS exports of canned vegetables form part of the Lockyer Valley Fruit and Vegetable Processing Company's medium-term plans.

Director Colin Dorber said the Grantham cannery was on track for its products to hit shelves from July 1, 2017, and overseas export was on the list of priorities for the project which is in negotiations with a major offshore investor.

He said Wellcamp Airport was the logical and logistical choice for exporting the canned vegetables.

"We want to be exporting as soon as we can," Mr Dorber said.

"We just have to get Australia sorted first."

The Grantham cannery has an estimated production capacity of 20,000 tonnes of Queensland-grown pineapple, 40,000 tonnes of tomatoes and about 15,000 tonnes of beetroot grown in the Lockyer Valley.

They are for the domestic market.

He said the cannery was progressing well and depending on the outcome of investor negotiations under way, it would move forward this year.

"We're talking starting to supply product by July 2017, so for that to happen we will have to build our 23,500sq m shed this year," he said.

"Right now, what is needed and what has always been needed, is more tangible support from the Queensland State Government."

Wellcamp Airport general manager Phil Gregory said the facility would remain a passenger airport "first and foremost", but international freight export formed part of future developments.

"First and foremost we're a passenger airport, that's what we are," Mr Gregory said.

The propopsed $71 million cannery to be built at Grantham by the Lockyer Valley Fruit and Vegetable Processing Company, production is set to start in July 2017.
The propopsed $71 million cannery to be built at Grantham by the Lockyer Valley Fruit and Vegetable Processing Company, production is set to start in July 2017. Contributed

"But like all airports, freight is part of that and it's the cream on top for the business.

"We're doing a lot of work in the background at the moment.

"It's really starting to get legs but we still do have a lot of hurdles to jump before we're ready to go."

Mr Gregory said it made logistical sense for Wellcamp to become an export airport due to its location and proximity to the rich growing region of the Lockyer Valley.

"As far as connectivity, we're in the ideal location," he said.

"If you are going to choose a spot for an airport, you'd be hard pressed to find somewhere better than Wellcamp."

He played down reports an airport outside Townsville in North Queensland could export freight before Wellcamp touched down on Asian runways.

He said the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's work on securing the Asian markets had opened avenues for the airport.

"There are people on the ground working on it," he said.

"We're confident that we will be in a position later this year to, if not having flights, be pretty close to having flights."

He said the airport, inland rail line and the Range bypass were vital pieces of infrastructure that would bolster the future for the wider Darling Downs region.



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