SPC Ardmona has “welcomed” the prospect the Australian federal government could invest A$25m (US$22.6m) in the struggling fruit manufacturer if Victoria’s state government will match the investment.
If the two government support packages can be secured, SPC Ardmona’s parent company, Coca-Cola Amatil, has committed to “significantly invest” in the business and keeping it open in Shepparton until “at least” 2020.
The company, Australia’s largest fruit and vegetable processor, is still awaiting a decision from the state government in Victoria.
The proposal was announced by Labor minister Kim Carr. However, managing director Peter Kelly was upbeat on the prospect the opposition would also back the rescue package if they win the election on 7 September.
“Minister Carr’s announcement confirms the Federal Government’s intentions to invest in the future of not only our business, the largest remaining fruit and vegetable processer in the country, but the Australian food processing industry as a whole,” Kelly said.
“We certainly hope to have bipartisan support for this investment in the future of food processing in Australia’s Goulburn Valley. We’ve been in productive discussions with all levels of government on both sides of the political fence for some weeks and it’s fair to say that all politicians recognise the importance of the Goulburn Valley food bowl, and of manufacturing jobs in Victoria.”
SPC Ardmona said it has been hit by a “perfect storm” of external economic factors, with the high Australian dollar leading to cheap imports, while demand in export markets has slumped.
Kelly claimed an investment package of this scale would be “game changing”, allowing the company to bring new products to the market and improve its cost base by investing in new technologies.