How five Queensland farmers started a ginger empire with £25

Before World War II, most of Australia's ginger was imported from China but when fighting enveloped the Pacific those supplies were cut off.

Enter five Queensland farmers.

The group got together in an old blacksmith’s shop in 1941 with £25 between them, and decided to launch what would become one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of sugar-based ginger products.

Buderim GingerCredit:Buderim Ginger/State Library of Queensland

Buderim Ginger was awarded the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame's history award in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

The ginger distributor was lauded among six new admissions to the Hall of Fame; Wallace Bishop, Birch Carroll and Coyle, Evans Deakin Industries, Philip Bacon AM, Sir George Fisher CMG and the Springfield City Group.

From those humble beginnings in the blacksmith’s shop, Buderim Ginger today sells its products to 17 countries, mainly in Europe and also the United States.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited Buderim Ginger in 1983. Credit:Buderim Ginger/State Library of Queensland

It was a transition helped by Chinese food giant Qia Qia, which invested tens of millions to reduce debt and help it to expand into overseas markets about two years ago.

"About 50 per cent of our product is exported now," Buderim Ginger chief executive Andrew Bond said.

"It is a tremendous Queensland success story."

Mr Bond said the business's defining moment was the transformation from a farming cooperative to a publicly listed company in 1989.

Mr Bond said one of the original five ginger-growing families, the Templetons, still supplied to the company.

"We are very humbled to accept this award, preserving and promoting our history is something we are really proud of," he said.

State Library of Queensland memory director Gavin Bannerman said the company's efforts to share its extensive historical collection with the public secured the top gong.

In 1985, four years before going public, the co-op opened the Ginger Factory: a tourist attraction including rides, a 118-year-old sugar cane train and a factory tour.

Its public historical collection included photographs, farm machinery, processing equipment, packaging, press clippings, advertising material, meeting notes and other memorabilia tracking the processes, places, people and products that contributed to the multimillion-dollar transformation.

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