Business

Farmer's gamble with beetroot pays dividend with big contract

REAPING REWARDS: Troy Qualischefski from Qualipac with his first season of beetroots at his Glenore Grove farm.
REAPING REWARDS: Troy Qualischefski from Qualipac with his first season of beetroots at his Glenore Grove farm. Rob Williams

BEETROOT growing in the Lockyer Valley is back with Qualipac farm securing a 1000 ton contract to supply leading Australian food manufacturer Simplot.

The cost-cutting decision by Heinz, owners of Golden Circle, to move operations to New Zealand in 2011 came at a massive cost to beetroot farmers in the Lockyer who produced 90% of Australia's crop.

Qualipac co-director Troy Qualischefski said the Lockyer was now "back in the business of supplying processing crops" and the signs were promising that the beetroot contract his company has with Simplot won't be the last.

Qualipac, based near Gatton, grows broccoli, onions, sweet corn, pumpkin and now 40 acres of beetroot for the first time.

The harvesting of the beetroots, which were planted in June and July, started this week with modified potato harvesters.

When the QT visited there were four B-double trucks waiting to take the beetroots away to be tinned.

"This is our first year of growing beetroot," Mr Qualischefski said.

"Once Golden Circle took the production to New Zealand the beetroot industry was shut down in the Lockyer.

"But we have secured some contracts with Simplot, who are based in Bathurst and Echuca, to do some trials with beetroot for processing.

"It is bringing some of these processing markets back to the Lockyer and giving us another marketing avenue for our crop.

"It is not related to the fresh market and not driven by the pricing mechanics of the central market.

"It is a contract price, machine harvested and bulk freighted. It is a low cost business.

"This is a trial, but the reports we are getting back from the company is that the quality is good and the sizing of the beetroots is good.

"All going well I am hoping we are going to do contracts next year for them."

The 2011 and 2013 floods did around $800,000 of damage to Qulipac's business, with the pumpkin crop copping the brunt of it.

"To go from where we were in the floods to where we are now, securing contracts with companies, means we are going forward," Mr Qualischefski said.

"There are is still opportunities in the Lockyer to do processing crops and with the support of Simplot we are making it happen."

Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones said there was a huge potential to grow beetroot in the region again for the fresh market and other markets.

He said the Lockyer Farmers United planned $40 million cannery, which will process beetroot and a variety of other crops, was "still full speed ahead" and would hopefully be operational by the end of next year.

"There were eight to 10 farmers still into beetroot seriously when Golden Circle gave it away," Cr Jones said.

"Some of them are still growing it, but Qualipac seem to be finding all sorts of markets and doing quite well.

"At the time when Heinz bought out Golden Circle and stopped canning beetroot in Brisbane the market disappeared overnight.

"But Qualipac have found an alternate market and that is the sort of thing council has been working with farmers to do."

Topics:  vegetables




What's on this weekend

HIGH FLYERS: Vintage aircraft like the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros will be part of this weekend's Brisbane Valley Air Show.

Five things to do in Ipswich

How Ipswich clubs are competing for your money

CSI (Club Services Ipswich) operations manager Kerri Nielsen in the new sports bar area.

Venues battle it out to be the city's best

Shots fired at three cars in south-east Queensland

Police believe the gunfire came from "another moving vehicle".

Latest deals and offers

Katy Perry: 'I stay normal with therapy'

Katy Perry says she relies on therapy to help her 'stay normal'

World's highest-paid actor revealed

The highest-paid actors in the world have been revealed

Jessica Alba regrets her tattoos

Jessica Alba regrets getting her tattoos

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson highest paid actor in world

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Johnson earned almost $20 million more than Jennifer Lawrence

Why Depp and Heard are fighting again

Amber Heard is furious over Depp taking advantage of her generosity

What's on this weekend

HIGH FLYERS: Vintage aircraft like the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros will be part of this weekend's Brisbane Valley Air Show.

Five things to do in Ipswich

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa

Coast building approvals at seven-year high: report

The the 2015/16 Development Indicators Annual Highlights Report documents local development activity that took place during the last financial year.

New report shows increasing development on the Sunshine Coast