Around 50 full time equivalent and 75 casual positions will be created within the next five years in the Mid West as South Australian company 4 Ways Fresh expands its marketing and joint venture production arrangements with local horticulture producers in the Mid West.
4 Ways Fresh will spend around $2.82million over the next four years to set up its operations on 135 acres of land at Bootenal,14kms south-east of Geraldton. The company envisages around $7.50million in wages and other expenses will also be spent in the Geraldton area during this time.
The Bootenal site will ultimately house 300 growing tunnels; a series of dams to conserve the natural rainfall run-off and a packing shed and cool rooms.
Planting will commence in April with the company’s first crop of Lebanese and Continental cucumbers to be harvested towards the end of the year. Produce grown on the property will be destined for Western Australian and overseas export markets with some over-run being sent to the Eastern seaboard.
It is envisaged that after 3 years of production hydroponics will be introduced further enhancing the production level of the property. Summer cropping to include capsicum, zucchini and egg plant is also being considered for future production, opening up the variety of produce grown in the region.
The company’s longer term vision is for further expansion of the site to enable outside growers to lease plots within the property for easier access to the packaging plant, in essence creating a new horticultural precinct.
4 Ways Fresh is a privately family-owned company with 25 years’ experience in fresh produce production is one of the largest suppliers of fresh produce to major supermarket chains in most Australian states including Coles; Woolworths; IGA and Costco Wholesale.
4 Ways Fresh chief executive officer Duy Ly believes the move to set up operations in Geraldton has been a long time coming.
“4 Ways Fresh has had an association with Geraldton and local growers for the past 13 years purchasing local produce and we recognise the potential of this region to grow high quality produce.
“Our aim is to enhance the production of existing local growers by introducing new lines resulting in better crop rotation and better diversification to improve soil management.
“We will provide local growers with access to our packing plant that will reduce their costs and provide better market opportunities,” Mr Ly said.
Presentations made by 4 Ways Fresh to the Mid West Development Commission (MWDC) and Department of Agriculture and Food Geraldton were well received.
MWDC Chair Murray Criddle reinforced that the development of the Agriculture and food industry was a key area of focus for the future development of the Mid West as outlined in the Mid West Regional Blueprint.
“Agriculture and food is a key industry for the Mid West and there has been strong interest expressed for a dedicated horticultural precinct in this region,” Mr. Criddle said.
“A horticultural precinct would offer environmental, logistical and efficiency advantages by having growers located close to each other and we are looking at ways in which the Commission may be able to assist local businesses equitably to achieve this,” Mr. Criddle said.
Department of Agriculture and Food central region director Pam I’Anson said the department supported development of new agricultural businesses in the region.
“While this area is traditionally known as a broad acre farming area based on cropping and livestock, it features a growing horticultural component which provides fresh produce to consumers in WA and nationally,” she said.