Australia: Valleyfresh enters JV with Perth wholesaler
Produce group Valleyfresh has teamed up with a Western Australian company to launch a pre-packing, storage and distribution services operation in Perth, expanding on its existing businesses in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Peru, South Africa and the U.S.
In a release, the Freshmax Group subsidiary said it had done business with wholesaler Etherington for 15 years, while talks had been going on for 12 months for the joint venture 'Packing Station' that is set to open its doors at E7, Market City Perth on May 1.
"For a long time now there has been a need for a better pre-pack option on Australia's West Coast," said Valleyfresh chairman Garth Lockyer.
"Pre-packing is a tricky business but by working on this project with Etherington, our combined expertise should make this venture a great success," he said, adding machinery was now on its way from Italy for the custom-built 900-square-meter facility.
Valleyfresh account manager Simon Powell said there was a significant supplier base in Western Australia that was ready to use the new service.
"The new facility we are launching will also offer a great opportunity for our eastern seaboard customers to have the confidence to go west.
"Taking three days to transport fresh produce pre-packed in Sydney or Melbourne has never been very viable."
Valleyfresh plans to send experienced staff to Perth to govern the roll out and the initial training of staff, while Etherington will introduce more people as the facility's capacity grows. Both companies have emphasized that Packing Station will remain independent, with both set to use the facility as paying customers.
"I think the third party service is a massive selling point, and one that applies to us as much as anyone else. We expect to grow the business to the point where the machines are running year round," says Grant Etherington, representative of the third-generation, family-owned company.
"It will be an independent packer and service provider for national suppliers to assist them in servicing Western Australian supermarkets. And that's something that doesn't currently exist."
While the premises will initially focus on citrus pre-packing, this will expand over time to include other ranges and categories. In terms of pre-pack options, the facility will offer flow-wrapping, net bags and strip bands for fresh produce, in a quality controlled and temperature controlled environment.