Australia: Sundrop Farms opens US$152M sustainable tomato facility

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Australia: Sundrop Farms opens US$152M sustainable tomato facility

A tomato production facility that is claimed to be the first of its kind in the world has opened in Port Augusta, South Australia, using solar power and desalinated seawater to grow tomatoes across 20 hectares of greenhouses. sundrop-facility

Sundrop Farms' new sustainable facility was officially launched on Wednesday, comprising our five-hectare climate controlled greenhouses, a desalination plant and concentrated solar power system involving a 127-meter (417-foot) tower and more than 23,000 mirrors to reflect the sun's energy.

The commercial facility cost AUD$200 million (US$152 million) to build, and employs about 175 people and produce 15,000 metric tons (MT) of tomatoes annually.

The company has a 10-year deal to supply supermarket chain Coles from the facility 300km (186mi) north of the South Australian capital Adelaide.


Sundrop Farms founder and CEO Philipp Saumweber said the development showed the company's unique gribusiness model that benefited people, the planet and long-term, sustainable profits.



“With growing resource constraints our innovative model harnesses renewable inputs, such as seawater and sunlight, to de-couple food production from the finite inputs of freshwater, fossil fuels and land,” he said.

Since the first week in June, Sundrop Farms has delivered tomatoes to supermarkets in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. Now up to eight trucks a day are leaving the facility to freight tomatoes to supermarkets across Australia.

Construction of the commercial facility began in March 2015 following a five-year pilot project in Port Augusta from 2009. In 2014, global private equity firm KKR partnered with Sundrop Farms, investing more than AUD$100 million (US$76 million) to enable the expansion in Australia and abroad.

Port Augusta’s proximity to seawater at the top of Spencer Gulf coupled with its warm climate and abundant sunlight make it an ideal location for the project.

Sundrop Farms CEO Philipp Saumweber

Sundrop Farms CEO Philipp Saumweber

The commercial plant integrates solar power, electricity generation, fresh water conservation and production, climate control, and hydroponics to enable the year-round production at high yields.

The opening was attended by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, who said the project highlighted the state’s appetite for commercialising world leading technologies.

“This state-of-the-art development is a massive boost for Port Augusta and the Upper Spencer Gulf, creating almost 200 jobs and heralding the start of an exciting new industry for the region,” he said.

“It is yet another example of a world-leading company making a long-term investment in this state and I look forward to seeing the wide-scale benefits the project will bring over coming years.

"The South Australian Government supported the project through a $6 million grant from the Major Projects Program of the Regional Development Fund.”

Sundrop Farms has offices in London and Adelaide, and farms in Australia, Portugal and the United States.

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