A South-East Queensland horticulture production and packaging facility is making Queensland history and creating new jobs with funding from the Palaszczuk Government.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said a $250,000 grant for Qualipac in the Lockyer Valley would be used to build a state-of-the-art, Queensland-first floretting machine capable of processing otherwise out of spec food to a saleable product.
“Broccoli and cauliflower heads too big for market specifications were previously sold below cost for livestock feed but the latest technology will cut them up small enough to meet consumer demand in supermarkets and green grocers,” Mr Furner said.
“This project is expected to create 20 short-term jobs in establishing the floretting line, then 21 direct and indirect jobs ongoing.”
Qualipac Produce and Qualipac Agriculture directors Troy and Bradley Qualischefski said existing customers were relying on frozen imported cauliflower and broccoli products, where facilities in Tasmania were already at capacity and seasonal conditions did not allow for expansion.
Bradley said the project would deliver significant benefits for Australian producers and open a market for a product line that did not already exist in Queensland.
“This project is about improving an existing product that already has consumer markets in place,” he said.
“The product would be supplied for four months a year, from July to October, with the potential to be extended.
“It is expected 2,500 tonnes of broccoli floretts and 680 tonnes of cauliflower florett would be required annually while there is also interest from overseas markets for floretted Australian produce.
“We are comfortable in the knowledge consumers are prepared to pay a higher price for Australian grown produce. We are replacing and improving an existing imported product rather than recreating a new one.”
The Palaszczuk Government’s Rural Economic Development Grants program offers emerging projects up to $250,000 in co-contributions to build industry and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector.
A total of 15 businesses have received $3.3 million under the first-round of funding for the RED Grants program. Overall these 15 projects are expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.
Funding for Round 2 of the RED Grants will be announced later this year.
The recent State Budget locked in funding for the remaining rounds of the program, taking the total amount of grants available up to $10 million.
“This program represents the Palaszczuk Government investing in regional jobs now and for the future,” Mr Furner said.
“By supporting regional businesses today we are helping them expand and growing our economy for the future.”
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administer the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.