A Bundaberg farm will construct two new cold rooms to increase capacity to supply fresh produce thanks to a Queensland Government regional development grant program.
Cross Family Farms already delivers ten per cent of Queensland fresh vegetables and will use the cold rooms to meet ever-growing demand.
Cross Family Farms is one of 16 businesses to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant of up to $200,000 to assist with economic development in regional Queensland.
The fourth round of the RED Grants program has total funding of just over $3 million.
The 16 projects are expected to create more than 217 direct long-term jobs across regional Queensland.
The initial three rounds of the RED Grants program have seen funding of $10 million over three years to support more than 30 projects which have created 1,800 jobs across regional Queensland.
The Queensland Government has continued its investment with a further $6.6 million to be delivered in two rounds over the next two years to generate even more jobs, expand agricultural supply chains and provide significant economic benefit to rural areas.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said improving on-farm operations will help Cross Family Farms increase its vegetable production with the project expected to create up to 50 new job opportunities in the Bundaberg region.
“These grants are about backing our farmers to take on the world and supporting vital growth to create good jobs in traditional industries like agriculture,” Mr Furner said.
“Our agriculture sector is expected to have a gross value of production of more than $23 billion this financial year, and projects like this prove there is even better to come.”
Sales and Compliance Manager of Cross Family Farms, Clinton Phillips, said the new cold rooms will improve cold chain management for the business and packhouse production.
“Our current cold rooms are outdated and not efficient for the business as they cannot hold the large amount of produce we are harvesting,” Mr Phillips said.
“This project will increase our capacity by more than 50 per cent, improve the shelf life of the produce and enable export opportunities.”
Cross Family Farms grows a large variety of vegetables including tomatoes, snow peas, capsicum, chilli, green beans, butter beans, borlotti beans, zucchini, grey pumpkin, jap pumpkin and more.
Mr Phillips said that in the past decade, consumers’ appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables has increased dramatically, which is why the cold room technology is so important for horticultural growers.
“In the past decade, consumers both domestically and internationally expect to be able to purchase fresh, not frozen, fruit and vegetables all year round,” Mr Phillips said.
“This has led to fresh horticulture produce being chilled, packed and transported thousands of kilometres interstate, and much further to export markets from farms like ours.
“Fast chilling to target storage temperatures is a major step to successfully achieving these market expectations.”
For more information about the RED Grant scheme visit the QRIDA website.