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A new $30 million, 100 per cent Australian-owned manufacturing facility the size of 99 tennis courts, 21 Olympic swimming pools or 3.5 rugby football fields was officially opened at the Sunshine Coast Industrial Park in Caloundra today (June 20).

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson celebrated the opening of Country Chef’s new premises with a tour of the facility, capable of producing more than 30 million slices of banana bread each year.

As one of the largest bakeries in Australia, Country Chef’s re-investment in the Sunshine Coast region is worth an anticipated economic impact* (direct and indirect) of more than $250 million and 600 new full-time equivalent local jobs annually.

“This is a nationally and internationally recognised corporate brand. Their continued growth, right here on the Sunshine Coast, driven by their embracing innovation and technology, effectively reinforces the value propositions Council promoted through its Invest Sunshine Coast initiative,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“This is an important reason for Council to support the retention and expansion of highly successful businesses like Country Chef within the region, and notably a major contributor to the Sunshine Coast’s already $900 million food and agribusiness industry.”

Country Chef’s expansion was supported through Council’s Sunshine Coast Economic Resurgence Plan. The Plan was established in response to COVID-19, to provide support to local business and to assist with the economic recovery of the region, by accelerating large shovel-ready projects.

Mayor Jamieson also reflected on Council programs helping businesses tap into potential export opportunities.

“Country Chef was a graduate of the Sunshine Coast Council’s Export and Global Capability Program, which identified real export growth opportunities to 10 countries including Japan, Canada and Singapore,” Mayor Jamieson said.

Country Chef Chief Operating Officer Dion Nolan said the new facility would enable them to continue serving customers Australia-wide, including Woolworths, Coles, Qantas, Foodservice Distributors, 7-Eleven and Metcash IGA Supermarkets.

“Not to mention the 700,000 Australian mouths who eat our baked banana bread every day,” Mr Nolan said. We use over 20 million Cavendish Banana’s each year, grown in the Innisfail and Tully regions, these are the ‘seconds’ produce, due to their size or shape and give our bread it’s distinct sweet Banana flavour.

“Country Chef Pavlova Production starts to build from June – when we employ a further seasonal workforce - in order to supply over 8million Pavlova’s across Australia for Christmas and the summer season.

“Setting up in a designated Biosphere, we have sustainable initiatives in the works as well – solar is coming, light mapping and more.

“Now that we have made the move, workforce recruitment is now our focus, and we look forward to providing employees a safe and sustainably conscious workplace.

Country Chef is a local business which started in 1952 and has operated in many Queensland locations and gradually branched into sliced banana bread which was sold through Woolworths stores.

Country Chef has achieved significant growth success to date and in 2020, having reached maximum capacity at their sites in Kunda Park and Forest Glen, the business sought to consolidate its four current manufacturing operations (three on the Sunshine Coast and one in Sydney) into one new site at Bells Creek.

Country Chef assessed locations for its new facility. While the Sunshine Coast was its preferred location, it did face competition from other sites across Australia.

Sunshine Coast won out.

The Sunshine Coast offers investors an unrivalled mix of quality investment opportunities, prime commercial and coastal locations with major infrastructure projects underway, a dynamic, innovative ecosystem and an idyllic lifestyle and environment. Find out why at invest.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.

*Economic impact modelling is sourced by National Institute of Economic an Industry Research (NIER) 2021. Compiled and presented in economy.id by .id (informed decisions)