Hemp Foods Australia is on the verge of a potential employment boom that could see its work force jump by 600 percent in the next couple of years as the company explores new overseas markets.
Managing director Paul Benhaim said much of the employment projections for the Bangalow-based business on the NSW far north coast, rested with interest shown in the company’s products by Asia and North America.
“We should have a decision in three months or so,’’ he said, “The company is going very well. It has its challenges but people are loving our products. We’re struggling to keep up with current demands.’’
He said the company’s initial expectations of increased future employment had jumped from a current level of five people plus contractors to around 30 in a couple of years.
“We’re confident we will become market leaders in the southern hemisphere in our specialised products.’’ Mr Benhaim said.
He said assistance and advice from the NSW Trade and Investment Department had been invaluable in improving financial stability and credibility to move ahead. The Department’s funding of six new employees for six months had provided the impetus for the company’s increased expectations.
Local member Don Page said Hemp Foods was a prime example of the NSW Government’s success in helping regional businesses move forward and boost employment.
“If things go according to plan there will be a significant boost in local employment and that is always a good thing,’’ he said.
“Jobs are always a priority in NSW, especially in the bush, and this Government is working hard with bright initiatives to provide them.’’
Hemp Foods Australia is an importer and retailer of hemp based food and nutritional products. It has just invested $230,000 into its new facility at Bangalow that is already working to near capacity.
Mr Benhaim, who arrived in Australia 13 years ago from England, said the initial expectation of additional employment was only the six employees funded by the Department of Industry and Investment, if it was feasible when the funding expired.
Now all six would be retained and the company would be looking for more if the export agreements were signed.
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the performance of Hemp Foods would hopefully be a story repeated over and over in NSW as the Government’s incentives and strategies became established.
“There is still work to be done to restore regional NSW as an economic powerhouse,’’ he said.
“But with stable, competent Government, we can do it.”