SPC Ardmona reveals $90m food technology upgrade
15/06/2012 - Fruit giant SPC Ardmona says a $90 million upgrade to its operations in Victoria's north will create dozens of new jobs and help it stay competitive.
The company plans to modernise manufacturing at its Goulburn Valley cannery in Shepparton, and has received $4.4 million from the state government for the project.
Part of the funding will also see the company's nearby Mooroopna site transformed into a centre for developing new food manufacturing technology, which SPC Ardmona says will create about 45 new full-time jobs.
Parent company Coca-Cola Amatil last August announced it would consolidate SPC Ardmona's tomato operations from Mooroopna to Shepparton and Kyabram from 2012, affecting 150 workers.
About 110 staff took voluntary redundancies during the reshuffle, which the company blamed on the high Australian dollar as its export sales slumped 35 per cent.
SPC Ardmona says new upgrades at its Shepparton site will let it reduce its dependency on seasonal fruit, consolidate its tomato operations and replace caustic peach peeling with steam peeling.
It estimates the upgrades will slash the plant's annual processing costs by $12.4 million as it cuts water use by 242 megalitres and energy consumption by almost 55,000 gigajoules.
Deputy Premier and rural development minister Peter Ryan says the project will help protect the jobs of 870 employees across the Goulburn Valley by improving the plant's competitiveness and lowering its costs.
"The project will also secure the future of SPC Ardmona's 275 contract growers and suppliers of semi-processed fruit products such as fruit juice and pulp," Ryan said in a statement on Wednesday.
SPC Ardmona managing director Vince Pinneri said the company was committed to keeping its manufacturing operations in Victoria.
"There's no doubt that being able to invest in new technology will bolster SPC Ardmona's ability to build a sustainable future in the Goulburn Valley," Pinneri said.
SPC Ardmona buys 150,000 tonnes of fruit - about $32 million worth - each year from contract growers in the Goulburn Valley region, it says.
The $90 million works are due for completion by March 2015.
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