Cannery plans take shape with investor
LONG-awaited plans for a food processing facility in the Lockyer Valley are within inches of becoming a reality.
Lockyer Valley Foods Limited CEO Colin Dorber has been leading the push for a cannery in Grantham since 2011 and said he's mere days away from finalising the land purchase from the Lockyer Valley Regional Council.
"Once we have that decision on the land, then the equity investor can make its decision," he said.
Mr Dorber said he's also deep in final discussions with the Sydney-based investor to secure a "significant" initial investment.
"We're hoping it'll be about $30 million, but there's no formal agreement at this stage as to what the quantum is," he said.
"We then have a meeting with a major national purchaser of the proposed output of the cannery and we're negotiating with them a 10-year-supply contract at an agreed price."
These developments have been buoyed by an outpouring of community support.
Earlier this month, Mr Dorber made a Facebook post inviting any Australian to invest in the facility.
"I was stunned... There's now over 51,000 responses of people who like and/or want to be investors at $1,000 per head," he said.
"If I had my way, I'd much rather have those 50,000 Australian investors than some overseas entity.
"So we're getting professional advice about that... how do we maximise Australians' involvement in that?"
Discussions around such a factory have enveloped the Lockyer Valley for years, with economic benefits cited including more local jobs, increased product output and less food wastage.
Mr Dorber said recent state-wide outrage at the mass wastage of pineapples in northern Queensland has highlighted the need for a new cannery and given the project the push it needed.
"I'm not happy that it's taken six and a half years to happen, I wished it hadn't, but the benefit has been that every question that needed to be asked, every issue that needed to be addressed, they've all been sorted," he said.
"We're on the 10th iteration of the business case... We have a set of financials which, if I printed them off and put them on a wall, they'd run for 17 metres.
"We now have the equity investment at the table, we have the skill sets, we have huge community support, as those 50,000 names (on Facebook) prove.
"That tells me that most Australians believe we have the skills and competence to compete with the rest of the world, and therefore we should return their support by delivering this project."