Bakery rise creates knead for expansion
  • Wednesday 02 December 2015

More employment opportunities, more great tasting goodies and a future economic benefit of $102.5 million to our region.

That’s what the Sunshine Coast can look forward to as a result of Country Chef Bakery Co.’s expansion.

The company that commenced operations in Nambour in 1992 is set to expand its current facility in Kunda Park to a new site that will include a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and become its national and global head office.

Country Chef Managing Director Lloyd Bartlett said the $8million-plus expansion was needed to enable the company to grow.

“Country Chef manufactures on the Sunshine Coast and having reviewed site expansion options in Brisbane and Sydney this year, we have chosen to remain here where we’ve prospered for over the past 23 years,” Mr Bartlett said.

“Our products are sold Australia-wide where our key customers include Woolworths, Coles, Qantas, Foodservice Distributors, 7-Eleven and Metcash IGA Supermarkets. On average around 700,000 Australian mouths eat our baked banana bread every day!

“We also export our products to New Zealand and the US and after graduating from Sunshine Coast Council’s Export and Global Capability Program, we’re planning to export to Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia in the near future.

“So for our business, initiatives like the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport would be of great assistance to our ability to grow our business from here on the Sunshine Coast – as I’m sure it would be for many others.

“Our Kunda Park facility is at full capacity and we need to expand to enable our company to grow further. This will create at least 49 new full time equivalent positions while retaining our 70 current full time employees and 50 employees from labour hire organisations as well.

“Sunshine Coast Council has partnered with us to help us achieve this local expansion and create numerous employment opportunities for our local community.”

Mayor Mark Jamieson said Country Chef’s expansion reflected the high confidence that exists within the Sunshine Coast business community.

“To have a business that supplies its product on a large scale nationally and internationally able to expand its operations on the Sunshine Coast rather than having to shift to a capital city is fantastic for our region and a real show of faith in the strength of our local economy,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Country Chef’s expansion will create a diverse range of employment opportunities and it’s estimated that their investment can have an economic net present value of $102.5 million benefit to the region over five years to 2021.

“There are also significant flow-on effects for other local businesses that Country Chef uses, like freight companies, printers, raw materials and packaging suppliers.

“Council competed with a number of regions around the country for this investment and the positive state of our regional economy as well as our support and assistance for Country Chef helped to ensure their business and these opportunities remained on the Sunshine Coast.

“This expansion also supports the vision of growing the region’s economy from $13billion to $33billion by 2033 by focusing on seven high value industries – one of which is Food and Agribusiness.

“Country Chef continues to develop as a nationally recognised food manufacturing company that has innovation and technology strongly linked with its brand. This reinforces the Sunshine Coast’s reputation as an innovative region that’s striving to further develop clean, green food and agribusiness production.

“It’s also terrific to note that council’s Global Export Capability Program has helped Country Chef expand its business horizons, as it has for many other successful Sunshine Coast businesses including Gourmet Garden, Buderim Ginger, COYO and RADAQUA among many others.”

Food and Agribusiness High Value Industry Taskforce Leader and Chief Operating Officer for Gourmet Garden Andrew Eves-Brown said the growth of Country Chef epitomises the image that the Sunshine Coast food and agribusiness industry wants to portray.

“It’s a great example of the clean, fresh, sustainability of our region and the high business confidence that exists within our region,” he said.

“Country Chef recently introduced a very efficient individual product portioning technology which they claim is a world first in the bakery industry. They forecast equipment upgrades will increase their output by 33% in their current plant whilst they construct their new plant and reduce energy consumption on this process.

“The Regional Economic Development Strategy has provided an ideal platform for local businesses like Country Chef to build from and created a real focus on such an exciting industry.”

Country Chef is already in discussions with other food manufacturers regarding training and development programs or buying groups as part of the diverse food industry that is developing the Sunshine Coast Food and Agribusiness sector further

Country Chef Fast Facts:

·       Country Chef buys approximately five million bananas per year – all sourced from North Queensland farms

·       Buys more than 350 tonnes of sugar from Bundaberg Sugar each year

·       Produces more than 50 different product lines in its Kunda Park facility

·       Sells more than 20 million slices of banana bread each year

·       More than eight million serves of pavlova are produced each year

·       More than 2.5 million serves of catering deserts (lemon meringue and sticky date pudding) produced each year

·       Key Australian customers include Woolworths, Coles, Qantas, Foodservice Distributors, 7-Eleven and Metcash IGA Supermarkets