AUS: $12M expansion for tomato greenhouse

An Australian tomato farmer wants to double his growing capacity in a $12 million joint venture to satisfy a national hunger for his bite-sized product.

Nora Valley owner Julian Long built the first 2.2 hectare greenhouse on his farm south of Yandina in 2005.

He maximised the capacity of the Gobberts Rd block in 2014 when he added another 2.2ha greenhouse.

His farm currently sells 1100 tonnes of snacking tomatoes a year, through a contractor into Coles supermarkets.

Mr Long said he employed about 60 people, made up of permanent casuals and full-time staff to keep the operation going year-round.

He hopes to double his output with his proposed development.

"The snacking tomato category since 2009 has really boomed,” Mr Long said.

"There is a very strong demand for the product.”

Snacking tomatoes typically weigh about 10g each but differ from cherry tomatoes in shape and flavour.

"It is a very good tasting (tomato).”

He said they had a sweet flavour and were popular options in children's lunch boxes as well as other cooking.

His company wants to replicate the size of its current greenhouse facilities but on a different block of land, about 10 minutes drive away, on the northern side of Yandina.

A development application being considered by Sunshine Coast Council said that Bunya Rd block was owned by Wayne and Roslyn Masterton.

"Nora Valley supply snacking tomatoes to national supermarket chains such as Coles and Aldi,” the application read.

"There is increasing demand for snacking tomatoes and the supermarkets are looking to increase their supply during the winter months.

"The climate on the Sunshine Coast is ideal to grow tomatoes during the winter and this development seeks to exploit this natural advantage.”

The development is being considered by Sunshine Coast Council.

Photo credit: Stuart Cumming

03/13/2018 - Sunshine Coast Daily

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