Macadamia sale a boon to industry
PAT and Col Sheppard have no regrets about leaving the macadamia industry at a time when its future in Bundaberg has never been brighter.
The Sheppard family of Winfield, one of Australia's largest macadamia growers, confirmed it had sold its plantation, processing facility and silos to national firm Macadamia Industries Australia (MIA).
"Basically, we had an offer we couldn't refuse,'' Mrs Sheppard said.
The sale price remains confidential and although the 400ha plantation and infrastructure have been sold, the Sheppards still own Goldmac Australian Macadamias.
The Sheppards started macadamia farming at Winfield, north of Bundaberg, about 18 years ago.
The nut industry has since expanded and its estimated worth to Bundaberg is up to $25 million.
"I think Bundaberg will become the centre of the industry in the fu-ture,'' Mrs Sheppard said.
"Bundaberg has the area and the capacity for growth and offers the viability of growing at a low cost that they don't have in other areas.''
MIA's managing director Bryan Raphael said the Winfield purchase was the company's first investment into Bundaberg, although local growers have supplied to MIA's processing facility in Dunoon.
MIA has also secured exclusive processing rights to all macadamias grown by the Sheppard's suppliers.
"This agreement means MIA now has a processing presence in each of the major macadamia growing regions in Australia and access especially to the macadamia crop from central Queensland, with the Winfield facility capable of processing around 6000 tonnes per season,'' Mr Raphael said.
Mr Raphael said the local workforce of about 40 people would be retained, with no projections for additional jobs in the short term.