Carnarvon grower Sweeter Bananas will process fruit thanks to grant

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Lisa FavazzoMidwest Times
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Sweeter Banana Co-operative business manager Doriana Mangili.
Camera IconSweeter Banana Co-operative business manager Doriana Mangili. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian, - Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper

The State Government announced a $270,000 investment in Carnarvon's fruit industry on Thursday, with local growers expecting it will help the sector “go bananas”.

Sweeter Banana Co-operative will run the town’s first commercial-scale fruit-processing site, reducing food waste and transport costs, and it is expected to better service the markets in their back yard.

According to business manager Doriana Mangili, most frozen bananas sold in WA are overseas imports.

Meanwhile, she estimates 160 tonnes of over-ripe or cosmetically imperfect Carnarvon bananas are either being put in the bin or repurposed as mulch every year.

“It’s criminal that we throw out perfectly good fruit, grown close to Perth, and import fruit from other parts of the world,” she said.

The site is due to be up and running early next year, with the co-op estimating it will create at least 10 local jobs.

Ms Mangili said the group produced more than 50 per cent of Carnarvon bananas.

She said the processing site would help make the Gascoyne region a “food hub”.

The grant was part of a $10.2 million McGowan Government investment package in food and beverage manufacturing expected to generate more than $132 million in private sector investment, with the Carnarvon group the only recipient north of Perth. Ms Mangili said she was “pleased” to see the Government investing in grower-owned organisations like the Sweeter Banana Co-operative.

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said too much of WA’s agribusiness was “concentrated on the production of raw commodities”.

She said developing the food and beverage production sector would be good for the whole economy.

“As the economy recovers from the challenges of COVID-19, initiatives like these will support local business growth and development that is vital for a strong WA economy and jobs into the future,” she said.

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