TasFoods buys Betta Milk

TasFoods is expanding its portfolio of premium Tasmanian dairy brands with the acquisition of the Betta Milk

Co-Operative Society Limited business. TasFoods and Betta Milk today announced that an agreement has been assets and brands. Established in 1956, Betta Milk has a reputation as a leading producer of fresh Tasmanian milk. The sale agreement includes Betta Milk’s recently upgraded export-accredited processing facility in Burnie as well as distribution centres in Launceston and Hobart. Betta Milk will complement and strengthen TasFoods’ existing dairy brands – Pyengana Dairy, Meander Valley Dairy and Robur Farm – and will expand its present distribution network.

The acquisition of Betta Milk is another step in TasFoods’ strategy to build a successful premium food business leveraging Tasmania’s unique environmental and marketing advantages.

“This is an exciting step forward for TasFoods and represents the acquisition of a well-known Tasmanian brand that is highly complementary to our existing dairy brands. We are passionate about helping our brands grow and thrive in markets across Australia and overseas, and we will continue to support the Betta Milk brand in the Tasmanian market where it has a strong and loyal following. We believe there are also opportunities in mainland and Asian markets to leverage our recently registered Van Diemen’s Land Dairy brand,” said Shane Noble, TasFoods’ executive chairman.

“TasFoods was born out of a desire to share Tasmania’s high-quality produce with Australian and overseas markets. The scale this acquisition will bring will further enhance the opportunity to continue to showcase the State’s finest product whilst retaining our solid, focussed market position in Tasmania. Betta Milk has been a long-term supporter of the Tasmanian dairy industry and we look forward to welcoming its dedicated and passionate team to TasFoods,” said Noble.

Discussing the transaction, Betta Milk chairman, Neville Latimer said that a compelling reason for the Betta Milk board agreeing to divest of its milk interests was the fact the company would remain in the hands of another highly regarded Tasmanian business entity and would continue operating from its Burnie plant, without compromise to current operations.

“The sale of the milk processing assets and brands will allow the board to focus on the company’s whisky business, Hellyer’s Road Distillery. Our whisky business is garnering strong interest from overseas thanks to the high-quality single malts it produces. The sale of the milk business will provide us with the funds to grow and expand whisky operations to take advantage of emerging demand from Europe, Asia and the United States,” he said.

The transaction is subject to final due diligence and approval by Betta Milk’s shareholders. All employees will be offered continuing employment under TasFoods’ ownership.
The purchase price for the Betta Milk processing assets (excluding cash and receivables, which will be retained by Betta Milk) will be approximately $11.5 million, payable in cash funded from internal and external sources including an $8 million fully underwritten non-renounceable rights issue. The transaction is expected to complete in late June/early July  2019.

Japan allows Northern Tasmanian fruit exports after fruit fly eradication

Northern Tasmania will again be able to export fruit to Japan after Japan reinstated its fruit fly free status.
The news came after work from the Australian agriculture department, which resulted in Japan accepting evidence around eradication of fruit flies from the northern Tasmanian region.
Federal minister for agriculture David Littleproud said although the cherry season had finished, this was still good news for the Tasmanian fruit growers.
“Growers in northern Tasmania can again sell fruit to Japan,” Littleproud said.
“The best thing the Australian government can do for growers is give them options when they sell their produce.
“This means opening as many overseas markets as we can, and keeping them open when we have issues as we’ve had here.
“I congratulate the Australian officials for their hard work.”


Northern Tasmania declared fruit fly free

Northern Tasmania was  officially reinstated as a Pest Free Area on January 9, opening the door to domestic trade.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin welcomed the news as a positive step forward for the local horticultural industry.

“Northern Tasmania is officially fruit fly free,” Minister Littleproud said. “No fruit flies have been detected in Northern Tasmania in the past six months thanks to eradication efforts and movement restrictions have been lifted.

“We are working with trading partners with the help of our overseas agriculture counsellors to get international trade back up and running. For the fruit exporters of Northern Tasmania we are working to make this happen as soon as possible.”

Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin, said the reinstatement is great news for Northern Tasmania farmers who will no longer be subject to strict movement conditions.

“I am thrilled Northern Tasmania  has been declared fruit fly free and we can re-commence the domestic trade of our clean, green, well renowned produce,” Mr Martin said;

“Tasmania’s horticulture industry is an important contributor to the economy and our agriculture industry as a whole.

In the 2018–19 Budget, the Coalition Government provided $20 million to the Tasmanian Government to support the state’s response to the Queensland fruit fly outbreak.

$100,000 was also provided to Fruit Growers Tasmania to help producers prepare for and respond to biosecurity incidents.

The Coalition also recently announced $16.9 million to support Australia’s ongoing commitment to a strong, effective, harmonised system for fruit fly management.​​​


Fonterra to expand dairy operations in Victoria, Tasmania

Fonterra Australia is matching its push to secure additional milk volumes with more than $165 million in capital expenditure in this financial year at key sites in Victoria and Tasmania in a move to increase capacity and meet unique demand opportunities for dairy.

The investment was first signalled by the dairy co-operative’s CEO Theo Spierings in November last year. It is made up of new investment of around AU$130 million to put in 500 million litres of additional capacity, and a further AU$35 million for a range of annual site improvements as part of its regular capital investment plan in Australia.

The expansion includes a $125 million expansion at Fonterra Australia’s flagship Stanhope cheese facility in northern Victoria which will double the size of the cheese plant; and a $12 million investment in Tasmania, which includes expansion to its Wynyard cheese plant and an increase in lactose processing capacity at Spreyton.

In addition, the company has announced a further AU$7 million expansion at the Darnum nutritionals plant in Gippsland as well as the installation of two robotic palletisers in Bayswater in eastern Victoria to improve efficiency; as well as $13.5 million for projects at Cobden and another AU$8.6 million at Dennington in western Victoria.

René Dedoncker, Managing Director of Fonterra Australia, says customers want trusted supply options out of Australia, especially for products like cheese, whey and nutritional powders which are in high demand.

“We have a clear strategy that is delivering sustainable returns. To create value, we need to invest to stay ahead of the demand curve. These investments support our aim to secure positive returns back to our farmers on both sides of the Tasman.”

He said Fonterra Australia will play to its strengths in cheese, whey, nutritionals, and butter, increasing production capacity to meet rising domestic and global demand, but filling its expanded capacity would mean securing more supply.

Morrison ticks off sale of Australia’s biggest dairy to Chinese buyer

Treasurer Scott Morrison has approved the $280 million sale of Australia’s largest dairy farming business to the Chinese-owned Moon Lake Investments.

Morrison announced he had agreed to the acquisition of the land and assets of the Tasmanian Land Company (TLC), including the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL) from New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), subject to conditions on taxation.

He said his decision was consistent with the recommendation of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Moon Lake is owned by Lu Xianfeng. Lu is the managing director and executive chairman of Kresta Holdings Limited, Australia’s largest window-covering retailer.

VDL, which dates from 1825, owns and operates 25 dairy farms in Tasmania, milking some 18,000 cows. The Treasurer pointed out that “VDL is currently a foreign-owned company that has always been owned by foreign residents”.

Morrison said he had considered the national interest test, including the likely impact on local jobs and increased investment to support economic growth. “In particular, the national interest test requires consideration of the impact on taxation revenue,” he said.

Approval of Moon Lake’s application is the first under new conditions, requiring it to comply with Australian tax law, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) directions to provide information about the investment and to advise the ATO if it enters into any transactions with non-residents to which the transfer pricing or any anti-avoidance measures in the tax law might potentially apply.

Morrison said Moon Lake had guaranteed all VDL employees would be offered jobs on terms no less favourable than their present ones.

It had also committed to investment projects on the VDL farms “which will provide additional economic activity to the Tasmanian economy, and based upon Moon Lake’s estimates will result in a near doubling of employment at VDL”, Morrison said. “This will guarantee more than 140 local jobs, generate an intended additional investment of over $100 million and an expected additional 95 jobs.”

Moon Lake planned to continue to supply the milk under the present contractual terms. This meant the supply of milk and milk products would not be affected – indeed supply might increase with more investment, Morrison said.

He said the VDL land had important cultural and natural heritage significance.

“Moon Lake has committed to honour the terms of all environmental and cultural agreements entered into by VDL, including with the local Aboriginal community. This also includes the ‘in principle’ approval for the construction of a Devil Proof Fence at its Woolnorth property to help reduce the spread of Devil Facial Tumour Disease among the Tasmanian Devil population,” Morrison said.

Businessman Dick Smith condemned the approval as a “disaster”. “You may as well not have borders if you are going to sell everything off,” Smith said.

The decision follows controversy about the purchase and comes before Morrison must decide on whether to approve the sale of the pared-down Kidman empire to a Chinese buyer. Earlier he rejected the Kidman sale particularly on the security grounds that Anna Creek Station, the biggest working cattle station in the world, overlapped the Woomera Prohibited Area. Anna Creek has been removed from the restructured bid.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Kathmandu founder bids for ownership of Tasmanian diary company

Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron is preparing a bid to buy Australia’s largest dairy farm in an attempt to stop overseas buyers taking control.

Cameron is the third party to come forward for the dairy producer, alongside majority Australian-owned food consortium TasFoods and Moon Lake Investments, which is owned by Chinese billionaire Lu Xiangfeng.

Despite being established in 1824 with an operation including 25 dairy farms and a standalone Heifer Rearing Operation, the company has never been Australian owned.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Cameron said she will lodge a formal expression of interest, “commercially similar” to the Moon Lake bid by Friday.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring the magnificent Van Diemen’s Land property into Australian ownership for the first time,” Cameron said.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said in a statement that the current New Zealand ownership and the fact a Chinese investor is trying to purchase it is “entirely irrelevant”.

“The fact that this is a commercial asset of strategic proportions and it would be irresponsible in the extreme for the Government to miss this opportunity to bring VDL into Australian ownership,” Wilkie said.

Second bidder TasFoods had their $250 million offer rejected and is set for a hearing at the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria on February 21.

According to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act, federal Treasurer Scott Morrison or the Foreign Investment Review Board are required to take alternative local bids into account when making foreign investment decisions.

The Australian dairy Industry is estimated to be worth $13 billion, with more than 6000 dairy farmers producing 9.7 billion litres of milk each year.

Tassie berries set to get more Coles shelf space

Tasmanian berry producer, Westerway Raspberry Farm is teaming up with Coles to put Tasmanian-grown berries in supermarket freezers around the nation.

Westerway, with the support of Coles, will install the only berry freezer tunnel in use in Australia.  As a result, Australians will now be able to choose fresh frozen Tasmanian raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries and mixed berries, rather than imported frozen berries.

Tasmanian growers already produce all of the vegetables used in Coles’ frozen vegetable line and it’s fantastic to see that Tasmania will once again be feeding the nation, this time with frozen berries.

This announcement will see Westerway increase its plantings, open up new markets for Tasmanian produce and critically, employ an extra five people full time, with hopefully more jobs to come as the company looks to new markets for its premium products.

Coles’ connection to Tasmania goes back over 100 years.  The Coles family owned and operated a general store in Wilmot in early 20th century and now Coles supermarkets employ more than 1,800 people across 31 sites in the State.


Tasmanian raspberry farm turns to the sun

Westerway Raspberry Farm was established forty years ago by the Clark Family on 150 acres of the fertile river flats of the Tyenna River on what were old hop fields to supply the local fresh fruit trade and for processing.

Freezing was seen as the key to expanding their market, but the potential energy costs were a major obstacle.

As a solution, Westerway has installed a 50kW solar system to offset the cost of operating its irrigation pumps and a 288 cubic metre blast freezer. The solar scheme comprises nearly a nearly 200-panel system in two 2.5 metre sets 50 metres long to generate the power. The system comprising 192 x 260W Trina Honey modules were installed by Powercom solar.

Powercom Business Development Manager Rohan Windsor said that the solar panels were installed in a paddock rather than a roof as this reduced the wind loading, made it easy to face north to get maximum sun exposure and low maintenance.

“The location of the panels between the farm’s pump and freezer are ideal for maintenance and for future expansion,” he said.

Westerway Harvest Manager Richard Clark said that the freezer has revolutionised their farming operation and the solar has made it more affordable to operate.

“We need to take the fruit from the field and freeze it at its peak quality and it is not viable to slowly freeze warm fruit from the field where summer temperatures can often exceed 30 C.

“The system designed by Powercom is extremely efficient and uses the solar energy on the freezer when needed and then switches over to irrigation when the freezer is not in use.

“The idea was to capture as much energy on the farm, as we need and use it through December, January and February, when most of our activities are in high gear.

“The 2014/15 season was a good one for us especially as there is a growing demand, especially from high end consumers, for Australian grown frozen berries.

“This investment has revolutionised our farm as the solar is making the freezer more affordable to operate.

“As well as the financial benefits of using less energy, we are very happy to now have a smaller environmental footprint.”


Tassal lands Australian Business Award for sustainability

Tasmanian salmon producer Tassal has received an Australian Business Award for Sustainability.

The award, which is benchmarked against international performance standards, recognises organisations demonstrating leadership and commitment to sustainable business practices.

Tassal Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Mark Ryan said the award was timely.

“The company is delighted to receive this award that recognises its achievements and commitment to responsible and sustainable salmon farming,” he said.

“Underpinning our goal to minimise our impact on the environment is our Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification which has now been achieved across all our farms. We are the first salmon company in the world to achieve this.”

Mr. Ryan said Tassal was committed to continuous improvement, ongoing measurement and transparent communications via its annual sustainability report and continuing leadership role in sustainable salmon farming.

Tassal’s Head of Sustainability Linda Sams said while the company had made significant progress in the sustainability space over the past four years, the company was not being complacent about future work.

“Tassal’s partnership with WWF Australia has been pivotal in our work to date,” she said.

“We still aim to continue to lead sustainable aquaculture production in Australia, with all our products meeting best practice environmentally-responsible standards.”

Tassal is a signatory to the WWF Global Seafood Charter which sets out clear principles and objectives to safeguard valuable marine ecosystems, ensuring the long-term viability of seafood supplies.