NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson and Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli today welcomed the announcement that one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers is establishing a $70 million hazelnut project in the Riverina.
Agri Australis Pty Ltd – an Australian subsidiary of the Ferrero Group –will develop a large-scale hazelnut project near Narrandera in the State’s south west.
Mr O’Farrell said the one million hazelnut trees would be planted across 2,000 hectares of land.
“The decision by one of the world’s largest confectionary companies to develop such a major project from the roots up is an exciting development for NSW,” he said.
“Ferrero is behind well-known brands such as Ferrero Rocher and Nutella, so this announcement will be welcomed by chocolate lovers around the country.
“This is a great investment in our agricultural sector and has the potential to bring another valuable income source for our State’s regional economy.”
Ms Hodgkinson said the project was being set up as a demonstration farm to encourage other growers to enter the industry.
“Having one of the world’s biggest confectionary companies leading by example could prompt the State’s farmers to consider hazelnuts as a new cropping option,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“Australia imports more than 2,000 tonnes of hazelnuts annually at an estimated cost of $12 million, while the local industry currently supplies less than 50 tonnes.
“An increase in local production of hazelnuts means manufacturers can source nuts locally reducing freight costs and ensuring they have fresh high quality nuts.”
Mr Piccoli said the demonstration project had the potential to bring another valuable income source for our State’s regional economy.
“The investment has the potential to provide up to 50 permanent jobs and 50 seasonal jobs and will deliver a welcome economic boost for the Riverina.”
The project was announced during the launch of the Ferrero Group’s 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Report in Sydney.