Australian grower-wholesaler-distributor LaManna Premier Group (LPG) has announced stage one of a three-stage A$50m retractable roof greenhouse facility to produce hydroponically-grown gourmet loose tomatoes.
The first phase of the operation is now complete following a A$15m investment in Cravo technology covering five hectares, according to a media statement from LPG. Located at Lancaster in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, the operation is employing up to 50 staff.
On completion, the three-stage project will cover 25ha of under-cover growing and the number of employees will grow to over 200.
“We’re creating an environmentally sustainable growing facility. This not only minimises water and power usage but increase yields, quality and consistency, which is exciting for our customers,” said LPG's CEO Anthony Di Pietro.
“We get the benefits of growing outdoors by opening the roof when the weather conditions are good and protecting the crops from the elements when they are not so favourable.”
Di Pietro said tomato supply from the Lancaster retractable roof facility would be managed under the guidance of its experienced head grower, Marc Bezuidenhout, and the LPG team. “This will complement the existing open field tomato crops also grown at Lancaster with our joint venture partner, Mercuri Family Farms,” he said.
Group chairman Brian Gargiulo said LPG's investment in the Lancaster operation formed part of the group's overall supply strategy. “Lancaster highlights our investment in Australian primary production,” he said. “We see this as very positive for the region, industry and consumers.”