Scenic Rim vegetable company innovating corn technology, supporting regional jobs

A Scenic Rim vegetable company will utilise x-ray technology to detect insect damage and defects in sweet corn and support up to 42 regional jobs with a funding boost from the Palaszczuk Government.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Kalfresh was one of 14 businesses in Queensland to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $250,000 to fund the expansion of their business.

“Kalfresh is a vertically integrated agricultural company that grows, packs, processes and markets fresh produce directly to supermarket distribution centres and central markets in Australia and overseas, and specialises in certified organic and conventional vegetables, including carrots, onions, pumpkin, green beans, grape tomatoes, sweet corn, and sweet baby capsicums,” Mr Furner said.

“The funding will support Kalfresh to introduce an automated non-destructive sweet corn line, with innovative X-Ray functionality. The processing line will allow Kalfresh to increase sweet corn plantings by 200ha a year, support new jobs and significantly increase regional business revenue.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for a lot of businesses and communities, so these additional jobs will be most welcome.”

The project will include a fully automated cob inspection, cutting and packing processes.

The project will help support up to seven jobs plus another 35 indirect positions, including agronomists, farm managers, machine operators, technicians, managers and quality assurance and sales staff.

Kalfresh CEO Richard Gorman said the new infrastructure would allow Kalfresh to grow and cut sweet corn to meet the consumer trend for ready-to-eat, pre-cut vegetables, while also reducing food waste by using x-ray technology to better analyse the corn and utilise more of the crop to meet retail specifications.

“Market research and data tells us that one of the biggest growth areas in fresh produce is the ready-to-eat, prepared salad and vegetable sector,” Mr Gorman said.

“The key to succeeding in this space is to have an efficient paddock to packet model and being able to utilise most of your crop. This investment in sweet corn processing technology will enable us to do this.

“The flow-on benefits are not only in the Scenic Rim region. Kalfresh and its growing partners are based in geographically diverse regions, including the Southern Downs and Bowen, to enable 12-month supply of sweet corn.”

The Rural Economic Development (RED) Grants program offers emerging projects up to $250,000 in co-contributions to build industry and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector. The $10 million grants program provides for three funding rounds over a three-year period ending 2021.

A total of 14 businesses have received $3.34 million under the second round of funding for the RED Grants program. Overall these 14 projects are expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administer the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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