The Riv took a tour of the Kagome plant last week.IVY WISE February 10, 2014 4:40am
The noise of pumps and conveyor belts going at the Kagome plant is music to the ears of chief executive John Brady.
It started on February 2, followed the next day by the processing plant starting its paste production.
The factory will start processing diced tomatoes today and expects to receive up to 4000 tonnes of raw tomatoes a day.
Mr Brady said it was great to be up and running again after an ever-changing season.
‘‘It’s been a tough year. We’ve had four harsh frosts in October, with morning temperatures of -1°C and -2°C,’’ he said.
‘‘Our transplants, that were in the ground in September, went into self preservation mode.
‘‘Then we had extremely high winds that sandblasted many of the weak tomato plants which remained.
‘‘We had to re-plant 60 hectares, as it was early enough in the season.
‘‘Then we had the week of 42°C plus temperatures in January which delayed the start of the season.
‘‘We should have started on January 26, but we had to postpone it by a week.’’
A workforce of about 300 employees will help with harvest, which is expected to be completed by mid-April.
‘‘If we’re still going after Easter, it’s likely to be because of rain delays,’’ Mr Brady said.
This season, Kagome will harvest across 2500 hectares of tomato fields from as far as Lake Boga in the north, Nanneella in the east, Colbinabbin in the south and Boort in the west, processing up to 245,000 tonnes of raw fruit.
With an increase in carrot and beetroot production being planned during the winter months, Kagome hopes to process throughout the year and hit 300,000 tonnes in the near future.
‘‘Essentially, in three to five years if we’re doing tomatoes, carrots and beetroot, it will give us 12 months’ production, employ more local people full time and produce world-class quality products,’’ Mr Brady said.
He said the future looked optimistic for Kagome, with consumer demand for tomato-based products increasing, not only in Australia, but overseas, including India, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.
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