Midfield buys McCains’ Penola site

Midfield buys McCains’ Penola site


Horticulture
McCains' potato processing plant at Penola has been purchased by Vic meat processor and exporter Midfield Group.

McCains' potato processing plant at Penola has been purchased by Vic meat processor and exporter Midfield Group.

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VIC meat processor and exporter Midfield Group has purchased McCains Foods' potato processing plant at Penola, although its future plans for the site are still unknown.

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VIC meat processor and exporter Midfield Group has purchased McCains Foods' potato processing plant at Penola, although its future plans for the site are still unknown.

But the potential coup for the livestock industry is a blow for a consortium of potato growers who believed they were in the final stages of negotiating to buy it after 10 months.

The plant, which had been owned by McCains Foods since 1992, had been idle since December 2013 when nearly 60 workers were made redundant and the site was closed because of rising input costs.

Growers were forced to deliver contracted potatoes to McCains' Ballarat plant but in the past year, the Penola plant remained a storage facility.

As part of the acquisition announced late last year, McCain Foods has a five-year lease-back arrangement with Midfield and an option to renew, for the storage of up to 40,000 tonnes of potatoes on the site.

McCains Integrated Supply Chain Director for Australia and New Zealand Taso Kourou said they had chosen Midfield as the buyer because it would allow growers to store potatoes at an equitable rate, and create job growth.

A spokesperson for Midfield Group said more information on the company's intensions would be provided in the near future.

Wattle Range Council mayor Peter Gandolfi was hopeful the sale would create employment opportunities for locals.

He said a briefing with the Midfield Group had been scheduled for the near future.

"If you look, in contrast, at the Tantanoola pulp mill, it was pulled down and is now a bare site, so it is pleasing to see it (the Penola potato processing facility) have a new owner and see it will be used again," Mr Gandolfi said.

Potatoes SA executive officer Robbie Davis said the consortium of growers had invested considerable time and money, but the biggest disappointment was the way it happened.

"They had been given the impression that they had it but then missed it at the 11th hour," she said.

"Many of them have very long-term relationships with McCains as suppliers of 25 years or so - it has many left wondering why it has happened."

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