Home' Grower : Dec 2013 - Jan 2014 Contents 12 The South Australian Grower -- December 2013/January 2014
McCain urged to
bear cost of change
By MAX OPRAY
NEGOTIATIONS by government and industry
representatives with McCain on the impending
closure of its Penola potato processing plant have
so far been unfruitful.
The company plans to shut down the facility on
The 59 staff have been offered redundancy
packages but at this stage, the fate of South East's
$35-miilion potato growing industry is unclear.
In late October, the new Federal Member for
Barker Tony Pasin announced plans to meet with
McCain Foods regional president Louise Wolthers
within a fortnight to discuss the issue, but the
meeting has now been postponed to January.
Both sides have put delays down to difficulties
in getting all interested parties together during a
sitting week of parliament.
Mr Pasin said it was "difficult to imagine" the
Penola plant remaining viable given current market
conditions, but added that growers were hopeful
of maintaining a good working relationship with
He said he had offered assistance to affected
employees and growers but had not received any
requests for help to date.
There have been extensive discussions between
McCain and representative bodies including
AUSVEG and Potatoes South Australia, however
all parties have remained tight-lipped about the
A key point of negotiation calls for McCain to
subsidise transport costs for South East growers to
supply its Ballarat plant in Vic, which for many is
about ten times the distance to the Penola facility.
McCain recently upgraded its Ballarat facility to
produce fries and readymade meals, apart from its
usual packaging services.
A McCain spokesperson said a number of plans
had been floated about how best to use the
vacated Penola facility.
Regional president Louis Wolthers blamed the
plant closure on a combination of rising costs and
a flood of imports. Imports of cheap, processed
potatoes have risen from 10,000 tonnes to
130,000t in the past 10 years.
Details: Potatoes South Australia 08 8425 4531 or
Chipper deal for
By PAULA THOMPSON
AN auction of new-season
baby potatoes at a
Potatoes South Australia
dinner last month resulted in an
impressive final bid of $8500.
This was for a 15-kilogram
box, which means these potatoes
actually sold for $567,000 a
The bid surpassed last year's
inaugural auction figure of
$3000/kg or $200,000/t, paid
by Adelaide Produce Market
chief executive officer Angelo
Elders Rural Services stud
stock manager Tony Wetherall
transferred his auctioneering
skills from the livestock saleyards
to the horticultural arena,
working a room of more than
100 key industry stakeholders to
produce the outstanding result.
Elders is a corporate sponsor
of Potatoes South Australia.
The successful bidder was
Thomas Farm Fresh general
manager Jamie Roberts, who was
later crowned 'The 2013 King of
Potatoes' by Liberal Senator for
SA Sean Edwards and the Little
Heroes Foundation chairman
The auctioned potatoes were
donated by Zerella Fresh.
All proceeds from the auction
will be donated to the Little
Heroes Foundation, a charity
dedicated to supporting children
living with cancer and serious
illness, and their families.
Mr McDermott said it was a
pleasure to once again partner
with Potatoes South Australia to
launch its new season and be the
beneficiary of the auction.
Potatoes South Australia CEO
Robbie Davis said the dinner
was a first for the industry in 25
"It was wonderful to see such
united, collaborative support
for the most significant sector
of horticulture at both a state
and national level, and for
our charity, the Little Heroes
Foundation," she said.
Guest speaker was Agriculture
Minister Gail Gago, who
highlighted the importance
of SA as the nation's largest
potato producer with farm gate
production worth $206 million.
A sponsorship with Rabobank
involving an industry scholarship
program was also announced on
Senator Sean Edwards, Thomas Farm Fresh general
manager Jamie Roberts, who bid $8500 for a box of new
season baby potatoes, and Little Heroes Foundation's
Chris McDermott. Funds raised from the auction went to
the Little Heroes Foundation.
Elders stud stock manager and
emcee for the evening Tony
Wetherall with Potatoes South
Australia CEO Robbie Davis.
Closure before Christmas
Growers seek concession
O'Neill and his
wife Karen with
G Trimboli &
Landmark's Brett Morris with Lyn and Ian Simpson,
Nildottie, and Landmark's Tania McAnaney.
ViCSPA Potato Certification
Services general manager Dr
Nigel Crump caught up with
Elders national manager-
horticulture genetics Rene de
Prity Saraswati with
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