Generic photo of tomatoes for sale in a supermarket. Picture: iStock
Generic photo of tomatoes for sale in a supermarket. Picture: iStock

Major investor details plan for $80m Lockyer cannery project

AN $80 million vegetable cannery that has potential to provide an enormous jobs boost in the Lockyer Valley could also become a new tourist destination, mayor Tanya Milligan says.

The proposed Lockyer Valley cannery, which is likely to be based in Withcott, would not only provide local employment opportunities, but a tourist destination.

"There could be a potential opportunity for the facility to become a destination," Cr Milligan said.

"Like a lot of manufacturing plants across the world, people can go there and see where everything is produced."

Cr Milligan said it would also boost jobs, local employment, local manufacturing and assist farmers.

"Even prior to the pandemic, there's a real emphasis with people wanting to know where their food comes from," she said.

The project, which has been in the works for nine years, would fill the void left by the relocation of Golden Circle.

 

Lockyer Valley cannery CEO Colin Dorber. Photo: Ali Kuchel
Lockyer Valley cannery CEO Colin Dorber. Photo: Ali Kuchel

 

According to cannery CEO, Colin Dorber, a potential investor has outlined a multi-million-dollar investment plan that would result in all three stages of the project to proceed.

Writing to shareholders and registered applicants in the formation of a cooperative, Mr Dorber said the "proposed major investor" had made a presentation to the two boards involved in the establishment of the facility - those of the cannery and the cooperative - at a meeting in Brisbane.

Mr Dorber said the investor outlined "an investment initiative that would see the whole of the proposed facility project proceed (i.e. the incorporation of stages 1 to 3)".

He said as a result of the presentation and after viewing certain documents tabled on an "in confidence" basis, the boards made the decision to "stand-down" and effectively place on hold "all current negotiations concerning investment proposals, and the establishment of the cooperative".

"The only exclusion to this arrangement is a well-developed initiative for a $5 to $10 million start up investment, where an in-principle (subject to due diligence) commitment has been made, and a funding release is awaited," Mr Dorber wrote.

"During this 'stand-down' period, the companies will not engage in the allocation/issue of shares, the sale of shares, or permit the transfer of any shares between existing parties including any existing shareholders; or solicit any further investment proposals."

The Lockyer Valley Cannery project began its life after Golden Circle, without warning, closed its Northgate canning facility in 2011 and moved their operations to New Zealand and Indonesia.

The move left the farmers in the Lockyer Valley and other horticultural production areas in South East Queensland without a processor for their produce.

Member for Lockyer Jim McDonald was supportive of any opportunity to boost local employment.

"I am supportive of any opportunity to see employment and the added value to the Lockyer Valley produce, that any project like this can bring, and continue to work with the proponents of it to gain that finance," Mr McDonald said.

The Gatton Star attempted to contact Mr Dorber for comment.