Agribusiness opens up new job opportunities

Posted: 14th Mar

Ice Cream making, fruit and nut tree growing, deer farming and bee keeping are among Geelong’s most unusual, and fastest growing businesses.

As the light dims on heavy manufacturing, Geelong’s Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) project officer Marianne Messer said “sunrise” agribusinesses were stepping in to help fill the void.

Among the surprising data compiled by the LLEN:

FRUIT and nut tree growing employed 11 people in 2006 and 146 in 2011.

ICE CREAM manufacturing: 211 in 2006, 370 in 2011.

BEEKEEPING: 3 in 2006, 49 in 2011.

KIWI fruit: 0 in 2006, 36 in 2011.

DEER FARMING: 0 in 2006, 90 in 2011.

RICE growing: 0 in 2006, 179 in 2011.

DAIRY/CHEESE: 67 in 2006, 190 in 2011.

Beef (905), Poultry (761) and textile for floors (495) are the three largest agribusiness employers in the region, the ABS statistics reveal.

Ms Messer said agribusiness was “growing in its diversity and potential”.

“Even since this data, agribusiness itself is changing in nature,” she said. “New jobs include transport and logistics, financial support, project management, agronomists and research and development.”

Ms Messer said Australia was leading the world for scientific advances in agriculture, and that the booming population in Asia was providing a large and fast-expanding market.

An 85 per cent industry skill shortage was a source of huge possibility for young people, with 700 agricultural university graduates taking their pick of 4000 highly skilled and wide- ranging jobs nationwide, she said.

Geelong brothers Doran and Jordie Mounsey are two locals tapping into the booming agribusiness trade. They started their award winning ice cream business, Nordenfine, about 14 years ago and now have shops in Geelong West, Torquay and Anglesea, as well as their own manufacturing plant.

The ice cream entrepreneurs started experimenting with flavours in their kitchen after becoming dissatisfied with the price and quality of high-volume brands.

“Once we had something we could work with we bought the equipment and started making four flavours, then six, eight, 12, and now 32,” Mr Mounsey explains. “The hours are big, but you get a much better product by making it yourself and the customer gets better value for money, too.

“There have been a lot of sacrifices, especially while we’re finding our feet. And there are always ups and downs when you run your own business but the rewards are well worth it.

“Everyone loves the product and I go to work and talk to happy people every day. We very rarely get complaints and when we do it’s usually that the scoops are too big, which is a pretty good problem to have.”

GEELONGADVERTISER.COM.AU - COURTNEY CRANE - SATURDAY MARCH 1 2014