Poppy processor relocates to Vic

Poppy processor relocates to Vic


Cropping
Tasmanian poppy processor TPI is relocating from Cressy, Tasmania, to Melbourne

Tasmanian poppy processor TPI is relocating from Cressy, Tasmania, to Melbourne

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AUSTRALIA'S third-largest poppy company is relocating its processing plant from plant from Cressy, Tasmania, to Melbourne.

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AUSTRALIA'S third-largest poppy company is relocating its processing plant from plant from Cressy, Tasmania, to Melbourne.

Poppy processor TPI Enterprises' chief executive, Jarrod Ritchie, said the company was looking at three sites in Melbourne.

"It will be significant – a $15 million investment moving the processing equipment from Tasmania to Victoria and setting up a 100-tonne-per-annum facility," Mr Ritchie said.

"The policy environment the Victorian Government has implemented gives us a level playing field when it comes to international investors," he said.

The Tasmanian Government refused to allow the importation of poppy straw into the State, resulting in uncertainty of supply.

TPI was hoping to grow 700ha of poppies in Victoria but the straw could not be taken to Tasmania for processing.

The Tasmanian industry is now worth about $120m a year to farmers.

TPI is the only Australian-owned company of the three operating in the sector, alongside international pharmaceutical giants Glaxo Smith Kline and Johnson & Johnson's Tas Alkaloids.

Mr Ritchie said the company had only one supply from Tasmania, and that was untenable.

Apart from contracting growers in six regions of Victoria, TPI has also been looking at the Northern Territory and importing straw from Europe or Turkey.

"We have been forced to move our factory so we have options in terms of raw material supply," Mr Ritchie said.

Mr Ritchie said it intended to have the Melbourne factory up and running by April 1 next year.

Poppy Growers Tasmania chief executive Keith Rice said while the closure of the factory was regrettable, he applauded the Tasmanian Government's decision to ban poppy imports.

Up to 50 jobs were expected to go when the Cressy, Tas, factory closed.

"I don't think there will be any significant change to poppy growers in Tasmania.

"TPI is growing about 3000 hectares, I understand, out of about 23,000ha in the State.

"That has decreased from 28,000ha in 2012, to 25,000ha in 2013 and we expect it to remain about the same – or drop a little bit further next year – simply because of slowdown in the US market."

Mr Rice said poppy growers would continue to oppose the importation of poppy material into Tasmania due to biosecurity concerns and the potential reduction in production for that State's growers.

Meanwhile, the Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association said the announcement had taken growers by surprise.

Poppies were now an integral part of diversified cropping enterprises for about 1000 Tasmanian farmers, chief executive Jan Davis said.

"Tasmania is considered the world's most efficient producer of poppies, with the State producing 50 per cent of the world's legal poppy crop from only 10pc of the cropping area," she said.

"TPI is the smallest of the three processors contracting farmers to grow poppies in Tasmania and they had already initiated moves to expand production onto the mainland.

"It is therefore unlikely that this decision will have significant effect on the overall size of the industry."

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