Labor Candidate Belinda McNeven, Pressure Fresh employee Rita McGrath and Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr.
Labor Candidate Belinda McNeven, Pressure Fresh employee Rita McGrath and Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr. Max Fleet

Staying fresher for longer

PROCESSED avocado products will stay fresher for an extra 10 days with the help of a $346,000 grant from the federal government to help develop new packaging.

Minister for Innovation Senator Kim Carr and Labor candidate for Hinkler Belinda McNeven visited Pressure Fresh, on Goodwood Road, yesterday to examine how the grant was helping the company.

But the grant is just a fraction of the $650,000 promised to Austchilli, the parent company of Pressure Fresh, by the Howard Government in 2007.

Austchilli general manager Ian Gaffel said the company was promised the money in October 2007, only to have the funds withdrawn by the Labor Government in May 2008.

“We wanted to keep people in jobs, so for the past two years we have basically been operating on a shoestring with staff and it has left a very sour taste in our mouth,” he said.

Pressure Fresh managing director Trent de Paoli said the company would use high-pressure processing techniques to increase the shelf life of avocado sauces from 30 to 40 days.

“Retrospectively the global financial crisis has not been kind to us and, without a grant, we would not be able to do something like this,” he said.

“We have been able to hire four more staff right off the bat and have possibility of taking on another 10 next year if all continues to go well.”

The company is researching ways to use the technology with getting the product on to supermarket shelves.

Mr Carr said the federal government tried to choose the best 8000 companies around Australia to give research grants.



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