200 new jobs to spawn from Monarto mushroom expansion

29 May

A $60 million expansion of a mushroom production facility announced today is expected to create 200 new jobs in the Murray and Mallee region.

Horticulture business Costa announced plans to upgrade its Monarto facility to help meet growing national demand for fresh mushrooms and double production at the site from 120 to 240 tonnes a week.

Costa’s investment is being supported by the State Government through a total $1.8 million grant with equal contributions from the Economic Investment Fund and the Regional Development Fund.

Costa is one of Australia’s leading horticultural businesses producing a range of different foods including avocados, bananas, berries, citrus, table grapes, mushrooms, and glasshouse tomatoes with major export markets to Asia, North America, and Europe.

The company has mushroom production facilities in five states. The Monarto facility is Costa’s newest mushroom farm – it opened seven years ago and is equipped with state-of-the-art mushroom production technology.

The Monarto facility has the lowest production cost of all sites – and can supply the rest of Australia within one to two days of shipment.

Premier Jay Weatherill said this is another welcome investment in South Australia and reflects the State’s reputation for producing high quality and safe premium foods.

“Costa joins a long list of renowned companies who have set-up a base in South Australia, including Babcock, Boeing and Blue Lake Dairy, creating thousands of jobs and demonstrating business confidence in our State,” Mr Weatherill said.

“This expansion means South Australia have the largest and most technologically advanced mushroom production facility in Australia and supports our push to create the industries and jobs of the future.”

Minister for Regional Development Geoff Brock said Costa expects the majority of the new jobs to be sourced from Murray Bridge and the surrounding areas over the next three years which is welcome news for families in the region.

“The Murray and Mallee has been able to attract a number of high-profile private sector investment projects in recent times, including Thomas Foods’ $25 million expansion, chicken producer Inghams, Beston Pure Dairies and the SA Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend,” Mr Brock said.

“The region provides companies, particularly those in the agribusiness sector, with excellent freight connections to all other states and territories.”

Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith said this is the second significant investment in this region in as many months with recent news that Big River Pork will expand its Murray Bridge facility delivering a further 140 new jobs.

“These projects reflect the impact Investment Attraction South Australia is having in terms of new investment and job creation in the state,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.

“The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies estimates this expansion will boost the state’s gross product by $158.9 million over the next ten years.”

Costa’s Chief Executive Officer Harry Debney said the company welcomes the support of the South Australian Government in making this investment a reality and creating 200 new jobs.

“It’s pleasing to see the government take such a genuine and active interest in promoting the growth of the food sector in regional areas, including here in the Murray and Mallee,” Mr Debney said.

“The availability of land on the existing site has helped make this investment happen with supporting infrastructure already in place and the existence of a one kilometre buffer zone around the site. This provides us with longevity of tenure and is important to ensure a return on our investment.

“The Monarto site is our most modern facility and its central location relative to our network of farms means we can not only supply the local South Australian market with quality mushrooms but all other states within one to two days of shipment.”

Construction on the expansion is expected to start later this year and be operational in 2018.

The State Government’s Investment Attraction South Australia worked hard to secure the project. Since it was established 18 months ago, it has helped attract companies such as Babcock, Boeing and Blue Lake Dairy to South Australia, creating more than 5219 jobs and $1 billion worth of investment.