N&A Group and Plunkett Orchards expand alliance

Pink Lady apples moving through new grader.

The N&A Group and Plunkett Orchards are joining forces in a new partnership.

This is expected to expand their existing alliance to become one of Australia’s largest growers, packers and marketers of all tree fruits.

The N&A Group and Plunkett Orchards are further strengthening their relationship with an arrangement that will see 100 per cent of the N&A Group’s Batlow, NSW production volume packed at Plunkett Orchards’ brand new, state-of-the-art packing facility in Ardmona, Victoria.

The new arrangement will also mean that the combined domestic market output from the new facilities will be marketed and distributed exclusively by the N&A Group.

Plunkett Orchards’ new packing facility

Plunkett Orchards is said to be building arguably the largest and most technically advanced packing facility in Australia.

With a new 20,000sqm of buildings built alongside the existing 25,000sqm packing shed, the new facility will be able to pack 60,000 tonnes of apples, pears and stone fruit allowing for “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 computerised tracking for efficient flow and significant labour savings.

Addressing industry trends

The decision to expand the collaboration is said to be driven by industry trends. These include 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.

The partners believe the alliance will create industry leading supply chain efficiencies, for its committed grower base, the N&A Group’s own orchard operations and customers alike.

Unpacking the new partnership

Rob Cathels, CEO of the N&A Group, discusses partnerships and the consolidation of resources as key to longevity in the dynamic environment that is the fresh produce industry.

“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.

Andrew Plunkett, CEO of Plunkett Orchards describes the joining of their operations as “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”.

He goes on to describe the new packing facility as being “a project spanning 10 years from the planning and development stage through to construction, with the facility due to be completed by the start of 2020’s new apple and pear season.”

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