JASON Fritsch is the Willy Wonka of tomatoes.
He is the chief executive officer of Kagome, the largest tomato processing factory in Australia.
Every year the Echuca-based factory processes about 250,000 tonnes of locally grown tomatoes and turns them into purees, pastes, sauces and other tomato products.
Last week the factory began a partnership with their next-door neighbour Cadell Trading Food Services, which will directly distribute Kagome products to local businesses.
“For the first time we’ve completed a full supply chain from paddock to plate within the local region,” Jason said.
“We’re supporting tomato growers in the region, manufacturing those tomatoes here locally at Kagome and distributing through Cadell to local restaurants, pubs and clubs.”
Locals who order a parma at their local pub can expect ingredients delivered by Cadell and John Bull tomato sauce made by Kagome.
‘‘We are the base on your pizza, we are the marinara on your Subway sandwich,’’ Jason said.
“It’s a unique story in this day and age and we want people to be aware that this really good product is being grown, made and distributed here locally.”
The idea for the partnership began when Cadell staff members were invited for a tour of the Kagome factory.
Golden ticket winner and Cadell sales manager Shane Howe said he was impressed by the cutting edge tomato technology.
“They can trace a bin of tomatoes back to a specific paddock, it’s incredible.”
Shane said the new partnership was their way of keeping jobs in the region and helping local businesses.
“We’re very mindful of what happens in a small town if you don’t keep the industry alive – just look at what’s happened in Rochester,” he said.
“Here in Echuca we’ve got a manufacturer that employs a lot of locals and we are a local distributor that is owned and operated by locals.
“It doesn’t happen much in this day and age and it’s good to see local businesses supporting one another and supporting the community.’’