AUSTRALASIAN PETFOOD COMPANY SOLD 26 NOVEMBER 2017 AUSTRALASIA AGRITECH BIOHUB TO SUPPORT AUSSIE FOOD INDUSTRY The Northern Rivers in Australia – one of the country’s dominant agricultural and food processing hubs - is set to create another first with plans to build Australia’s first crowdfunded bioHub in Casino. The project will transform organic waste and waste water from the Richmond Valley region, which boasts huge quantities of biomass from the industries located there, into energy, clean water and other bio-products. Brisbane- based Utilitas Group - a bioHub developer - has partnered with Domacom to raise $4.3m to secure the site and develop the biohub, and the Richmond Valley Council says it will be located adjacent to the sewerage treatment plant. General manager Vaughan Macdonald says the biohub will use the sludge from the treatment process. “They will also look at using food organics and other green waste (which) goes in to the reactor, and basically recovers that energy into the form of a gas which then produces electricity,” he says. “They are now in the process of securing the capital funding, and investors get a guaranteed percentage return on their investment.” One of the opportunities is to power the sewerage treatment plant, which uses a significant amount of electricity, and the medicinal cannabis facility close by. Utilitas chief executive Fiona Waterhouse says while the plant is designed for industrial use, it can power thousands of homes upon future expansions. “We are anticipating the initial scale of this to be 330 kilowatts,” Waterhouse says. “It’s 100-to-200 times bigger than a household solar unit.” Waterhouse intends to engage local contractors to build the project and says the target return from DomaCom to investors would be around 8% per annum. Subject to successful capital-raising and an approved regulatory pathway, the bioHub is estimated to be fully operational within a year. Macdonald says the council will be working hard over the next 12 months to move the project along quickly. “We work with investors like this very actively to help them through the red tape, like EPA licensing and development approvals,’ he says. Quadrant Private Equity, the majority owner of the Real Pet Food Company, has announced that it will be selling its interest in the $1 billion company to a partnership of some of Asia-Pacific’s leading investors. The partner group is led by Hosen Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Beijing, together with China’s largest private agribusiness enterprise New Hope Group and Singapore investment company Temasek. The new partner group will continue to drive innovation and growth in Australia and New Zealand, alongside the founding Quinn family and management. “Everybody wins,” chief executive of Real Pet Food David Grant says. “For the past two years Quadrant have supported us to grow strongly in our home markets. Now our Asia- Pacific partners are ideally suited to support us as we look to take our success to the Chinese and North American markets. Our products being Australian made gives us a significant advantage. Our provenance will be important as we grow offshore. All the while, we will maintain our passion and focus on being the best, most caring and innovative pet food company in Australia and New Zealand.” Spokesman for the partner group Nick Dowling says the sale is a logical next step for a real local success story. “Our partners share a common vision for the Real Pet Food Company. The opportunity to each bring our respective capabilities will help the company accelerate its growth and open new market opportunities.” Quadrant Private Equity invested into Real Pet Food Company in June 2015. The transaction is subject to FIRB approval. SECURITY LABEL LEADING A security label which deters the theft of high-value meat cuts from supermarkets has begun to attract international attention after being rolled out in New Zealand. Developed by Australasian printer Hally Labels, the integrated EAS Thermal Scale label uses a ‘keyhole’ concept to allow the price/weight labels on the meat packages to remain the same size even when the EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance label) is thermally printed on the reverse. The labels went into full commercial use last year, with Foodstuffs the early adopters of the solution. It works by cutting a hole in a thick proprietary liner that is large enough for the EAS label to be placed inside. Butchery departments can use their existing labelling equipment to apply the label, and it does not give away the fact that it is security-tagged. However, if the EAS label is not deactivated, it will sound an alarm to alert store security.
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