Potato farmers in Tasmania are hoping McCain Foods' $37 million investment into the Smithton processing facility will increase demand and raise prices. The multi-national announced this month it would become the company’s primary retail French fry production facility in Australia and New Zealand.
Tasmanian McCain grower committee chairperson, Rob Bayles, said while it’s great to see McCain investing into the future, it’s important to remember the vast amount farmers independently invest: “People need to remember it’s a two-sided thing and that farmers also need to be supported. We are currently growing potatoes for less than what we did 10 years ago. It’s currently 31.7 cents per kilogram delivered to Smithton, 10 years ago it was closer to 35c. The growers would be over the moon to get 35 cents per kilogram. All we are looking for is a three cent per kilogram price increase.”
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association's vegetable council member, Nathan Richardson, said any investment in an agriculture process facility is good news.
“It will certainly quiet down the many years of doubt in the Smithton factory. It also shows that McCain finally recognises the product from Tasmania is second to none. I think growers should be very pleased to see this level of investment," Mr Richardson said. “Tasmania is a good investment because of the soils the climate and the fact that we have a long harvest season.