Montague's stone fruit grader to be operational by Jan 2021
Fruit grower Montague’s new large-scale fruit processing facility will process over 260,000,000 pieces of fruit annually. Also incorporating a cafe, retail spaces, public picking orchard and seasonal exhibition space, the facility will be open to the public to showcase Aussie innovation in apple and stone fruit production.
The multi-use facility — located on a 12-hectare plot of land in Narre Warren North — will be launched in phases with the build of the 53,200 m2 fruit processing facility set to complete at the end of this year.
Installation of packing equipment is scheduled to commence in mid-September, which will mean the new stone fruit grader will be operational from mid-January 2021 and all apple production lines fully operational from mid-March 2021, in time for next year’s apple season.
The facility has also been created to support the local community and provide access to educational, behind-the-scenes insights into 21st-century fruit growing.
Commenting on the project, Rowan Little, Chief Innovation Officer, said, “Consumer research shows that Australians want to know where their food comes from and how it is handled before reaching the retail stores.
“From February 2021, visitors can join us to learn firsthand about fruit production while enjoying a coffee and pick some apples for themselves.”
Visitors to the site will also be able to tour the expanded fruit processing facility and witness firsthand how Australian grown fruit is packed and distributed to supermarkets and greengrocers around Australia and the world.
The project had been impacted by the stage 4 restriction in Victoria, with construction operating at a limited capacity since 5 August. However, the Victorian Government recognised Montague as critical and essential providers of fresh fruit to Australians and granted special permission for construction to resume at an increased capacity.
Montague has implemented a High-Risk COVID-Safe plan and continues to adhere to all ongoing directions, recommendations and guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding recommended measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission and ensure a safe working environment for everybody working on the project.
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