SunRice has been offered $5 million to help beef up its local rice product processing operations in southern NSW as part of federal government initiatives to encourage manufacturers to expand domestic production rather than go offshore.
The funds are available to assist further upgrades of the company's microwave rice pouch lines in Leeton.
Only last year the Leeton plant was upgraded to accommodate new cooking techniques as part of a $4.5m spend to improve the quality of the popular convenience products.
SunRice, which has some microwave convenience food lines processed in Thailand, has a fresh $19.9m investment plan on the drawing board for new microwavable products to made at the Riverina facility, boosting its onshore processing capacity.
Although the company has not set a date for the upgrade, the project involves introducing innovative technology for a new range of microwave pouch products.
SunRice chairman, Laurie Arthur, said the government's funding commitment would make the project a reality, creating 28 new skilled jobs in Leeton and delivering about $46m in flow-on economic benefits.
The funds are linked to Canberra's modern manufacturing strategy which has been providing incentives for local investment to companies which may otherwise divert their production activities overseas.
The company believed the money, allocated as part of the Regional Manufacturing Fund commitment in the recent federal budget, would be available regardless of the outcome of the May 21 election.
"It's a fantastic announcement, enabling SunRice to further invest in regional value-added manufacturing of premium branded products," Mr Arthur said.
"This project will allow us to take high quality Riverina-grown rice and transform it into new branded products loved by our consumers in Australia and overseas.
"This is a real vote of confidence in regional value-add food manufacturing and we look forward to commencing our project."
SunRice managing director, Rob Gordon, calculated every $1 invested by the Commonwealth in this project would generate a further $9 in flow-on benefits.
He said SunRice had proven capabilities in advanced food manufacturing and commercialising its investments in research and development initiatives which integrated into domestic and global supply chains.
The listed, farmer-built food company sells high-value branded products into 50 markets overseas, with much of its value-added manufacturing done in the NSW Riverina.
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