Bundaberg is home to the Asia Pacific headquarters of international company Multikraft Probiotics which is producing liquid probiotics for growers throughout Australia.
From its showcase farm located in Welcome Creek its range of products are developed in conjunction with blueberry, mango and macadamia farming.
Mulitkraft Probiotics Asia Pacific CEO Conor O’Brien said the company sat in the wellness space with a diverse range of products from soil health and plant health, which is the key focus for the Bundaberg operations, through to animal health, waste and water treatment.
Their signature product has not only increased growth rates for a variety of crops but has also made for a very fast-growing business.
“We’ve been growing at triple digits every year for the last five years,” Conor said.
“Whilst we have a strong foothold here in the Bundaberg Region and we look after, I would say now, the majority of some of these large industries, the expansion is also going across all of Australia.
“Because we have the rights in the Asia Pacific for this product range there is absolutely export opportunities which we’re looking in to in a lot of Asia Pacific countries at the moment.
“We’re doubling our production facility onsite again before the end of the calendar year.
“We’ve got expansion plans for protected cropping. The future looks bright for us.”
Multikraft liquid probiotics environmentally friendly
The liquid probiotics produced by Multikraft are also used to produce fermented compost.
He said what made their compost different to the rest was the presence of the good microorganisms which not only made for healthier plants and fruit but minimised the need for chemical fertiliser.
“We’re using a fermented style compost which is as environmentally friendly as possible and contains beneficial microorganisms.
“I think a lot of people understand now that there are benefits of fermenting food and we’re doing that with the raw materials, increasing the levels of vitamins and minerals that go in there.
“That naturally improves the health of the plant which means it can fight off disease more.
“It therefore doesn’t need as many of the toxic chemicals that are sprayed.
“When we apply that to the orchards or the crops we see a very fast turn-around in the health of the trees or the crops we’re working with.”
Using the blueberries that he produces in partnership with wife Jilli as an example, Conor said the use of probiotics in agriculture can even make the fruit more nutritious.
So far the products have had a high level of success, something that Conor hopes he will soon be able to visually demonstrate through a comparative trial study he is conducting onsite.
On their Welcome Creek farm the pair have planted 4000 macadamia plants including three different varieties.
There are two rows of each variety, one with the full Multikraft liquid probiotics range and product range applied and one without.
“Over time we will be able to show the difference.
“We already see straight away much better root development in our young trees compared to the control.
“I think the biggest validation is our products are being used in the market across thousands and thousands of hectares.”
Bundaberg a natural fit for national headquarters
Multikraft was established in Austria more than 40 years ago and today has a footprint of more than 30 countries.
Conor said they expanded in to Australia five years ago and chose to locate the headquarters in Bundaberg in 2015.
“Bundaberg was originally chosen because it’s a food bowl and there was quite a diversity of different agriculture.
“The climate in Bundaberg is perfect in terms of being able to grow a variety of different products.
“We also found that there was a lot of innovative growers that are looking to be more sustainable and look towards the future of agriculture.
“You’ve got some of the most innovative professional growers in the world.
“If we look at some of the initial products we were selling in to the tree crops, because of the high value of these commodities and the fact that Bundaberg is the largest macadamia growing region for Australia – it was an excellent fit for us and allowed us to service a lot of targeted customers from this central location.”
In Bundaberg Multikraft currently employs about a dozen staff with the figure rapidly growing as they look towards their expansion plans.
Conor doesn’t expect many hurdles in finding or attracting talented staff.
“It’s easier to attract people to a place like Bundaberg,” he said.
“While still being a regional town and you’ve got a lot of that community feel it has a lot of aspirations to take advantage of this paradigm shift in agriculture.
“We have access to quite a large talent pool.
“I think it’s also good timing to be in this space where we’re genuinely out there to create a better, healthier world with our products.”