“Bashed up shell” all that remains of Heinz Girgarre factory

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The Goulburn Valley Food Co-operative has been disappointed at what it describes as the “bashed up shell” that remains of the former Girgarre Heinz factory.

The co-op was formed in August 2011, following the food manufacturing giant’s decision to relocate its tomato processing facility to New Zealand, citing the high cost of doing business in Australia.

It planned on buying the Victorian factory to begin creating a manufacturing and tourism hub in the region, but start-up costs alone could make that an impossible task, as Heinz has removed the boilers, evaporators and processing lines from the factory.

The factory officially closed on 7 January, amid opposition from the local community and others throughout Australia who have voiced their concern about the number of Australian companies moving their operations overseas.

Goulburn Valley Food Action Group chairman Les Cameron said the group of 15 people who toured the factory yesterday, and although they were surprised by what they saw, they have made an offer on the factory.

"We rang to make the offer . . . it’s twice what we initially offered. I can’t say how much but it is hundreds of thousands of extra dollars," Cameron said.

"We had to consider the condition of the place and there’s some repair jobs . . . all the production equipment is going."

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) local organiser Jason Hefford did predict last month that Heinz would be taking most of the equipment from the factory.

“We’re hopeful that something will get up,” he said.

“It’ll depend on how much equipment is left.

“If Heinz just leave a shell of a factory, what is it worth really?

“My understanding is that Heinz is going to take all the equipment.”

The condition of the facility would set the project back at least 12 months, Cameron said, but added that if they are not successful in the bid they have a back up plan at a Greenfield site.

Co-op members will meet this Sunday to discuss the situation, make decisions on actions.