Members Statement –
In December last year SPC Ardmona released a 250-page glossy history book to commemorate its centenary.
On face value it tells the story of 100 years of fruit growing, processing, canning, wholesaling and exporting in the Goulburn Valley.
In reality it is a record of how Shepparton and surrounds became a powerhouse of agricultural production, the changing nature of our community and the vagaries of market forces.
SPC enabled our orchardists to diversify their businesses and has provided secure ongoing and seasonal work in the region for decades, but it has also faced challenges.
The Victorian government spent $22 million bailing it out in 2014, on the condition its parent company, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), made its own hefty investment in its renewal.
What followed was a powerful community campaign to re-establish SPC as an iconic Australian brand and renew demand for its products—its canned fruit and tomatoes that have long graced Australian kitchen tables and new lines to cater for developing markets.
Late last year CCA announced it would sell SPC and yesterday, with a number of offers on the table, wrote down the value of the company to zero.
The importance of SPC to the Shepparton region cannot be overstated and it is encouraging to hear that more than a dozen interested parties have recently toured the factory.
I would urge CCA to remember this and to choose a buyer not based solely on finances but with a focus on securing a strong and sustainable future for our agricultural region.