Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Goulburn Valley tomatoes back in Rosella

The new owner of food brand Rosella is trying to get the sauce and soup label back to its historic ascendancy and is using Goulburn Valley-grown tomatoes to do it.

GEOFF ADAMS May 21, 2014 3:00am

Company chief Dan Presser

The new owner of food brand Rosella is trying to get the sauce and soup label back to its historic ascendancy and is using Goulburn Valley-grown tomatoes to do it.

Established in Richmond in 1895, the Australian label has had a rough journey in recent years, gradually losing market share after a succession of owners and finally a tumble into receivership.

The Australian family owned company Sabrands, which owns the Sunraysia Natural Beverage Company, bought the Rosella brands and stock last year.

After discovering the company had been using imported tomatoes, executive chairman Dan Presser made a commitment to customers to return to Australian ingredients.

He also promised the content of their sauces and soups would be: ‘‘pure, quality, tasty and traceable’’.

They are now sourcing their tomatoes through the Echuca Kagome factory, which also sends tomatoes to SPC Ardmona.

‘‘We are a Victorian company and we grow great produce and we could not figure out why we should not use the best produce we could get,’’ Mr Presser said.

‘‘That’s when we gave the undertaking to Rosella consumers.

‘‘Rosella sauces and soups now have 100per cent Australian ingredients.

‘‘Now, if anyone asks where the tomatoes come from and you say ‘the Goulburn Valley’, they know where that is.’’

The sauce is processed under contract at Sylvan in the Dandenongs and the soups are made in South Australia.

Mr Presser said Rosella was now responsible for 60 to 70 extra jobs.

Sabrands also inherited a small Tasmanian label called Blue Banner, which processes pickled onions, also now grown in Tasmania.

Asked about the extra cost of Australian-sourced ingredients, Mr Presser said he believed Australians were prepared to pay a small premium for quality Australian food, which created Australian jobs.

The Rosella brands are carried in Coles, Woolworths and IGA and Mr Presser said they treated the company well.

A Rosella factory was built at Tatura in 1947 and was acquired by Unilever in 1963.

The brand was bought by Australian food importer Stuart Alexander in 2002 with an agreement to continue to make product for five years.

The most recent owner of the Rosella brand, Gourmet Food Holdings went into receivership in 2012.

Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett said Rosella had already created 20 jobs in Silvan and the relaunch would have a ripple effect throughout the state’s economy.

‘‘For the first time, Rosella will source its tomatoes from the Goulburn Valley, a boost for local growers and their communities,’’ Mr Hodgett said.

Sylvan MP Christine Fyffe said the ingredients would be transported to the factory in Silvan, creating more work for Victoria’s transport sector and new opportunities for local packaging and branding companies, marketers and for other suppliers.

‘‘There will be more choice for consumers, especially as Rosella is committed to restoring the products to their original recipes, focusing on quality, purity and taste over all else,’’ Ms Fyffe said.

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