RED Grant helps NQ growers reduce food waste

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Russell Chapman

23 October 2023

A North Queensland fruit and vegetable enterprise is saving more imperfectly shaped, yet perfectly delicious produce from waste and creating up to 23 jobs thanks to a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant.

With increasing consumer demand for blemished and misshapen fruit to reduce crop waste and save money, North Queensland Fresh in the Whitsundays is upgrading its grading and packing equipment which co-owner Russell Chapman says is to accommodate for its ‘ugly’ fruit line. 

“Before we created the ugly fruit line, we used to dump the bad fruit for cattle, but now we supply it to supermarkets and the line is growing," Russell said.

“It’s produce that doesn’t present well looks-wise, but customers don’t need picture perfect fruit or vegetables because they cut it up and cook it."

The facility will be used to process imperfect melons, mangoes, capsicums, and honey dews and will involve the installation of belts, weighing conveyors, and a washing station.

The upgrades are expected to be completed by next year and will create up to 23 direct, full-time jobs. 

“The Grant is helping us upgrade different equipment to help make our business more sustainable and increase capacity to meet demand," Russell said.

“The upgrades will create a whole range of jobs including fruit sorters and packers, pallet stackers, and quality control positions.”

North Queensland Fresh is one of 24 businesses approved for the fifth round of the competitive RED grants program with a total funding of $3.9 million. Overall, the fifth round of the RED Grants program is expected to create up to 215 direct, long-term jobs.

Grants are available for up to $200,000 with a 50 percent cash contribution requirement from applicants to fund projects which generate economic and employment opportunities related to primary production value chains across rural and remote Queensland.

Over five years, the Palaszczuk Government’s RED Grants program has provided a total of $13.3 million in funding to support 59 successful regional agribusiness projects, worth more than $52.4 million and estimated to create over 2,500 new direct and indirect jobs.

A sixth round of RED Grants, supporting Indigenous-owned agribusinesses and projects aimed at low-emissions agriculture, has been allocated for the 2023-24 financial year, with applications to open later this year. 

For more information about the RED Grant Scheme, visit the RED Grant Scheme page

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.


Last updated: 23 October 2023