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N&A/Plunkett alliance to capitalise on efficiencies


Leading Victorian grower Plunkett Orchards and NSW grower, marketer and brand manager N&A Group will combine packing and marketing operations to create a new ‘industry-leading force’.

The formal alliance between the long-standing partners will see all N&A’s Batlow production packed at Plunkett Orchards’ brand new, state-of-the-art packing facility in Ardmona, and, in turn, all combined domestic market output from the Plunkett facilities exclusively marketed and distributed by N&A.

The new packing facility at Plunkett Orchards, Ardmona, is expected to be operational in time for the 2020 season harvest.

The N&A-committed volume will help anchor throughput to Plunkett Orchards’ new packing facility – anticipated to be one of the largest and most technically-advanced in Australia – and allow N&A Group to focus investment on expanding production in new and improved cultivars, and organic production.

The partners believe the alliance will create industry-leading supply chain efficiencies, for the organisations’ grower bases, orchard operations and customers alike.

They said the decision to expand the collaboration has been driven by industry trends including vast improvements in technology, capital requirements, the need for production efficiencies both in the orchard and post farm gate, as well as the move towards improved sustainability and reduced environmental footprint.

Plunkett’s new facility, due to be completed in time for the 2020 apple and pear harvest, will be able to pack 60,000 tonnes of apples, pears and stonefruit and enable superior and advanced handling of product. The automated pre-sizing and packing system involves the movement, sorting, palletising and shipping of all packed fruit types with computerized tracking for efficient flow and significant labour savings. The new 20,000 square metres (m2) of buildings will be built alongside the existing 25,000 m2 packing shed.

N&A Group CEO Rob Cathels said partnerships and the consolidation of resources were key to longevity in the dynamic environment that is the fresh produce industry. A key motivation had been the rapidly-change technology and investment required and the opportunity to drive efficiencies and cost savings by allowing each partner to focus on their core expertise.

“For the N&A Group, the collaboration will provide further access to industry-leading storage and packing technology, whilst allowing our orchard operations in Batlow to focus on expanding production in new and improved cultivars, as well as organic production,” he said.

“For Plunkett Orchards, the committed tonnage will assist in increasing the throughput of volumes to optimum levels to further advance packing operational efficiencies”.

N&A are heavily invested in the Kanzi® brand and Rob said Plunkett Orchards was already licensed to pack apples marketed under the brand.

N&A’s Batlow packing facility will be available for expansion of their organic production. Rob believes growers who had used the facility will see the benefits and efficiencies of the new arrangements as well.

Plunkett Orchards CEO Andrew Plunkett said the formalisation of joint operations was “a natural partnership after many years of a strong strategic relationship, resulting in an industry-leading force that will enhance market transparencies and access for our growers through N&A Group’s network of marketing channels”.

Andrew said the new packing facility was a 10-year project that was due to be completed by the start of 2020’s new apple & pear season.

efficiency machinery and mechanisation supply chain

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