SUNNY DAYS AHEAD: From left, beetroot grower Peter Lerch, Lockyer Valley Beetroot Company CEO Colin Dorber and project director Lester Underdown announce the launch of a new beetroot processing facility at Grantham.
SUNNY DAYS AHEAD: From left, beetroot grower Peter Lerch, Lockyer Valley Beetroot Company CEO Colin Dorber and project director Lester Underdown announce the launch of a new beetroot processing facility at Grantham. David Nielsen

Beetroot cannery to be out of red in two years

THREE years after Lockyer Valley beetroot growers mourned the loss of Queensland's last cannery, they are celebrating the decision to build their own.

The Lockyer Farmers United announced yesterday they would go ahead with a long talked about processing facility.

The $40m facility, which will also process locally grown peas, beans, potatoes and corn, will be built at Grantham with no government assistance.

Lockyer Valley Beetroot Company chief executive Colin Dorber said after losing a promised grant, following the change of federal government, they had decided to proceed alone, based off independent advice that the cannery would be profitable.

Mr Dorber said independent analysis conducted by international consulting firm Urbis showed the facility would make money.

"Not only does the research show it's profitable, it shows that all debt related to the design, construction, build and operation of the factory will be fully acquitted and paid off by year 10," he said,

"And that (it) will actually be profitable, in terms of cash flow, by the end of year two."

The company is also seeking to establish long-term contracts with suppliers to make sure their beetroots will be stocked on store shelves.

The first sod is expected to be turned in April this year, and the factory is set to be running at full capacity by "very early 2015".

Mr Dorber said the site in Grantham was chosen due to the hard times the town had been through in recent years.

The cannery will see 50 jobs created in its first year of operations and 100 by the third year.

The factory is set to grow its output, with Mr Dorber saying it would grow from outputting 25 million cans in year one, to 72 million by year five.

Mr Dorber said the Lockyer Valley Beetroot Company was looking for growers to express an interest in supplying it.

He said while some farmers had moved away from beetroot since Golden Circle moved its facilities off shore in 2011, the Grantham cannery would see opportunities for more growers.

"Some have moved on; some haven't," he said. "But there will be opportunities for more growers than there have previously been."

Mr Dorber said the support from Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones had been instrumental in getting the facility this far.

"The support of Steve Jones ... has been crucial and greatly appreciated. He hasn't swayed from the first day we saw him three years ago."

CAN'T BE BEET

  • While canned beetroot is the most common way Australians enjoy beetroot, they can also be eaten roasted, steamed, boiled or raw.
  • In medieval Europe, beetroot was used to treat a number of medical conditions, especially digestive illnesses.
  • Beetroot's red colour, caused by the compound betanin, isn't broken down in the body. In higher concentrations, it can make urine become reddish.

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