West Australian Potato Industry supported by State government

Steve Bendotti, owner of Bendotti Exporters plans to upgrade equipment so that processing potatoes into a range of value-added products, including French fries and wedges, becomes more efficient and capacity can be increased.

West Australia’s struggling potato industry is poised for recovery after the State Government chipped in nearly $750,000 (USD 580,000) towards expanding processing and exports.

Four local growers and potato export and processing businesses will receive the money under the Potato Industry Assistance Grants program.

Recipients include Bendotti Exporters at Manjimup, which plans to upgrade equipment so that processing potatoes into a range of value-added products, including French fries and wedges, becomes more efficient and capacity can be increased.

Owner Steve Bendotti said his company processed about 10,500 tonnes annually for the West Australia market and was hoping to increase that by 2500 tonnes a year within the next two years.

Among other recipients, Fox Farming at Yarloop will install new washing and packaging lines to supply potatoes to the Singapore market and others.

Pemberton Fresh in Perth will develop an export-registered facility for fresh WA potatoes and implement innovative and eco-friendly packaging designs.

GP Ayres & Sons at Albany will install West Australia's first advanced optical imaging technology for sorting produce.

Total private investment planned across these four projects is about $2.58 million (USD 2 million).

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said most of the projects would source potatoes from other growers, meaning growth in these businesses would have wider benefits.

West Australia Potato Growers Association chief executive Simon Moltoni said demand for WA potatoes would rise by tens of thousands of tonnes.

West Australia growers produce about 85,000 tonnes a year, most for the fresh market, about a quarter of which is processed, exported or used for seed.

But the incursion of the tomato potato psyllid pest last year - which led to restricted markets in the other States, closure of the Smiths Crisp factory in 2016, followed by deregulation in the same year - meant West Australia was about 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes a year oversupplied.
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