SPC Ardmona's $25m assistance package canned
The federal government’s rejection of SPC Ardmona’s request for a $25 million assistance package has left many uncertain about the future of the company and food manufacturing in Australia. Up to 5000 jobs could be affected if the company folds.
“To build a sustainable and profitable business in Australia you need to innovate; to innovate you need to invest,” said SPC Ardmona Managing Director Peter Kelly.
“Without investment some of Australia’s best-loved packaged fruit and vegetable brands may disappear and consumers won’t have a choice to buy clean, green, Australian-packaged and -grown fruit at retailers.”
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) says the decision is a “slap in the face” of workers, growers and the larger community.
“It is unconscionable that we have a Coalition that invested more than $1 billion in the region through the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on water-saving infrastructure upgrades to assist farmers increase their growing capacity, yet have now shut the door on them,” said VFF President Peter Tuohey.
“The decision provides little confidence nor certainty in the future of Goulburn Valley growers and workers. We need support for Australian food processing. We need support for Australian jobs and most importantly we need strong support for Aussie growers.”
Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine said he will work to ensure the company remains viable. “We would like to work with SPC Ardmona and Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) to look at what opportunities there may be to examine Plan B, to deliver those economies of scale, those efficiencies, those productivity savings to provide ongoing viable food production,” ABC News reported Dr Napthine as saying.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has urged CCA to use its own revenue to restructure the business.
“The ETU believes that CCA should now implement changes within the company that will provide more than $25 million for additional funding to restructure and redevelop SPC Ardmona manufacturing operations in the Goulburn Valley,” the ETU said in a statement. The union suggested changes such as cuts to executive salaries to raise money for the cannery.
CCA had committed to investing a further $90 million on top of the government’s contribution of $25 million. SPC Ardmona says it will now review its business plans with CCA.
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