Minister 9

Victorian minister for regional development, Jaclyn Symes (centre), visits Lancaster Farms 

LaManna Premier Group (LPG) is pressing ahead with expansion plans at its Lancaster Farms tomato facility, thanks to financial support from the Victorian Government.

Jaclyn Symes, Victorian minister for regional development, visited the Goulburn Valley facility late last week (22 October) to announce the investment through the Regional Jobs Fund, which will support a new A$10m 5ha glasshouse development, the second to be built on the site.

The planned development will increase the facility’s total tomato production capacity from 5,250 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes per annum.

The new glasshouse will create 41 full-time equivalent roles in cropping, tomato packing and management, thereby increasing the current workforce at Lancaster Farms to 97 staff.

Aside from the ongoing roles to be created when the project is completed, another 25 full-time equivalent workers will be employed during construction.

The expanded facility will provide an important economic boost for the small regional community of Lancaster, generating around A$3m in increased local spending each year.

LPG has also received A$47,500 from the Victorian Government’s Business Adaptation Grants. The company plans to use this to build portable lunchrooms and toilet blocks to ensure physical distancing between workers during its peak season.

The Business Adaptation Grants support food supply chain businesses with the costs of adapting their workplaces to meet health, safety and physical distancing requirements, or adapt to business changes imposed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“This project will create new employment opportunities for Lancaster and get more fresh produce to market shelves for all Victorians to enjoy,” said Symes during last week’s visit.