Tomato processor Kagome Australia planning to invest in pouch packaging for its passata as an alternative to cans, will open pouch packaging facility in Echuca, Australia, with assistance from Australian government

MELBOURNE, Australia , January 14, 2014 () – KAGOME EXPANSION

AUSTRALIA'S largest tomato processor Kagome Australia has been given Victorian Government assistance to replace imports with local produce.

The funding will contribute to a $21 million expansion in Echuca and create 20 jobs.

The tomato grower, harvester and processor expects to replace 7000 tonnes of imported produce.

The investment will help the company vertically integrate its operations -- the first of the international Kagome Group to do so. Kagome harvests 2500ha of land in Victoria.

Acting Premier and State Development Minister Peter Ryan said the expansion would see a new waste-water treatment plant, a carrot-concentrate production line and a new pouch-packaging facility.

Kagome will invest in pouch packaging for its passata, made from Australian tomatoes, which it believes is a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to cans.

A waste-water plant will bring Kagome in line with tomato processing companies across the world.

``This investment will improve Kagome Australia's competitiveness against foreign imports and allow the company to replace those with Victorian produce,'' Mr Ryan said.

Peak body AusVeg said the funding would save 7000 tonnes of imported tomato paste, worth about $6.5 million, from hitting Aussie shelves.

``The expansion of these facilities will provide a new avenue for Australian-grown tomatoes and carrots, and it is hoped that vegetable growers will benefit from this new demand which will be created,'' AusVeg spokesman Hugh Gurney said.

``Many Australian tomato and vegetable processors such as Rosella and Windsor Farms have been forced to shut their doors in the past two years, largely due to skyrocketing imports, so to see a vegetable processor in Australia expanding their operations is exciting news for the industry.''

In 2011-12, Australia imported more than $41 million of tomato product, such as tomato paste.

Kagome Australia chief executive John Brady said the move into growing and processing carrots was motivated by a desire to utilise the modern plant at Echuca.

``We grew a test quantity last year and will be ready with two 365m pivots to grow 80ha of carrots this autumn/winter,'' Mr Brady said.

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