AUSVEG is deeply troubled by Simplot’s announcement today that ‘unsatisfactory financial returns’ means that it may need to close its Devonport and Bathurst vegetable processing facilities, an announcement that highlights the gruelling trading environment facing Australian food processors. 

“We call on the Federal Government to urgently re-evaluate the food processing sector in Australia in light of this announcement,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Andrew White.

“It was only last month that Simplot cut supply to Tasmanian pea growers in Kindred, and this announcement only reinforces the immense challenge facing the Australian vegetable processing industry,” said Mr White.

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

This announcement comes only 48 hours after AUSVEG CEO, Richard Mulcahy, warned in an address to delegates at the 2013 AUSVEG Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner that the loss of vegetable processors means that Australia is losing the ability to produce and preserve essential food commodities, placing the nation in an incredibly vulnerable position.

“Ensuring our nation’s ability to feed itself should be our most important concern and we can’t do this without the support of large corporations such as Simplot and our decision-makers,” said Mr White.

Simplot’s Devonport facility processes vegetables for the frozen market and its Bathurst facility is a major processor of sweet corn. 

The Federal Government recently released its National Food Plan white paper that outlines several ambitious goals for Australian food production by 2025, including growing export opportunities for Australian food processors, but AUSVEG has said that something needs to be done now.

“Australian food processors are struggling to stay viable under the demands of increasing costs, including labour, electricity and freight,” said Mr White.

“With an oversupply of produce in the fresh market, many growers may have to reconsider the lines they grow or search for other means of income.”

“The Australian food processing industry desperately needs the support of the Federal Government, which has in the past provided assistance to other production industries, such as car manufacturing.”
“Food manufacturing seems to have fallen off the radar.”

“AUSVEG calls for real changes by government to see an alleviation of the pressures and costs facing vegetable processing businesses in Australia,” said Mr White.

Mr White said that the value of imported vegetables in 2011-12 was $908m – a 16 per cent increase on the year before and a substantial increase of 50 per cent on 2004-5.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew White, Spokesperson, AUSVEG
Ph: (03) 9822 0388, Mob: 0409 989 575, Email: