$100K to transform Bowen’s food waste into profit
A PROPOSED Bowen project could help growers turn waste into profit by helping them find a home for all the fruit and vegetables they produce.
Burdekin MP Dale Last has recommitted funding to a feasibility study into a Food Transformation Plant for Bowen as part of his election campaign, saying he'll put $100,000 towards the study.
Mr Last visited Marto's Mangoes in Bowen yesterday alongside Queensland LNP Leader Deb Frecklington to make the announcement.
The plant would not be a "glorified cannery", Mr Last said, but instead aim to use otherwise wasted produce for a range of commodities including purees, vitamins and pastes.
Mr Last said up to 100,000 tonnes of produce was left on the ground in the Bowen region each year.
Ben Martin of Marto's Mangoes backed the project, saying it would help growers get more out of their produce as market prices sometimes meant fruit and vegetables weren't used.
If left on the ground, the produce was not only going to waste but could then cause other complications such as spreading diseases, he said.
"We won't send second grade crops if it's below cost," Mr Martin said.
"You show me another industry that has that amount of waste, manufacturing would go broke.
"It's about finding a home for everything you grow and produce."
Mr Martin said he was impressed by the methods being used in horticulture overseas and would like to see Australia take advantage of the advancements.
"The technology that's in food production and processing (overseas) is amazing and to use that here would be phenomenal," Mr Martin said.
Mr Last said the Transformation Plant was urgently needed and would help growers reap more value from their work.
"The LNP's commitment to a Food Transformation Plant is about opening up more options for the horticulture sector and adding even more jobs so that we can get Bowen moving again," Mr Last said.
"Instead of wasting produce that isn't 'perfect', the LNP wants to see that produce transformed into money for the Bowen economy, jobs for the people of Bowen and cementing the region's status as growing, preparing and producing the best produce in Australia."
Mr Last said he would like to see the plant owned and operated by growers, as well as being used by growers across the state from locations such as Bundaberg.
"There is absolutely no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on Bowen due to border closures and travel restrictions," Mr Last said.
"No one knows how long it will be before all travel restrictions are lifted but I know we need to stop talking and start getting Bowen reinvigorated, and this project is one project that can do that."