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



Bluebell the puppy farm dog looking for a new home

PUPPY FARM: Bluebell was among some of the dogs seized from a Glenarbon property where an alleged puppy farm was uncovered.

She is among 17 animals the RSPCA has rehabilitated

How Lockyer veggies could feed two nations

FRESH FOOD: Javier Saldana chats with Lockyer Valley Growers Group president Michael Sippel. The region is gearing up for international exports.

"There are many more mouths to feed over there than there is here"

WARNING: 'Sardine city' is on Ipswich's horizon

CONCERNED: The implications of the State's move to denser housing developments has Cr David Pahlke up in arms.

But Antoniolli says council can manage State's denser housing edict

Local Partners

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

DARIUS McCrary, who played Eddie Winslow on the ’90s sitcom Family Matters, has been accused of holding his infant daughter over a pot of boiling water.

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

Airlie Beach Festival of Music 2016 / Andrew Pattinson / Vampp Photography

Check out the city's live music scene here

Buderim dad rejects gay son's emotional plea for second time

LOVERS: Grant and Chris have been together for more than three years, and Chris' parents refuse to acknowledge their son's fiance.

Son’s emotional plea rejected again by unmoved father

What's on the big screen this week

Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller in a scene from the movie T2: Trainspotting.

This week's new releases offer plenty of variety for movie buffs.

Nashville singer Craig Campbell to star at CMC Rocks

READY TO PLAY: US country musician Craig Campbell said he couldn't wait to head Down Under again for CMC Rocks.

US singer set to play live to Aussie crowds

WARNING: 'Sardine city' is on Ipswich's horizon

CONCERNED: The implications of the State's move to denser housing developments has Cr David Pahlke up in arms.

But Antoniolli says council can manage State's denser housing edict

Grand re-launch for new Nolan's Corner

GRAND PARTY: Wayne Kemp and Angela Love from Poison Arrow, Eliza Woodruffe from Limestone Emporium, Tess Claris from Voice Hair and Beauty and Kim Schubel from Schudio will all be at the grand launch party.

A feat worth celebrating

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

The suburb where house, land prices are spiking

ON THE RISE: 13 Kallatina Terrace, Karalee will go to auction on March 31. Karalee house prices went up 9.9% in the past year.

"It has good hospitals, universities and schools."

$1b Springfield development deadline brought forward

Aveo's Springfield development is running ahead of schedule.

The majority of interest has come from local buyers

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!