Cracking 50 — Sunny Queen's not all in one basket
When Sunny Queen Australia Managing Director John O’Hara joined the company more than 17 years ago it was predominantly a one-channel, one-product business, selling shell eggs primarily to Queensland supermarkets.
Recognisable with its smiley-faced egg character, O’Hara said the brand has come a long way in the last five decades. Today the company is a multifaceted business that turns over $350 million and employs 140 people.
The fact that so many people now don’t have time to eat breakfast at home has seen Sunny Queen diversify into the out-of-home breakfast market, which is estimated to be worth $7.4 billion. The company’s Meal Solutions range of egg-based products now represents around 20% of the business.
In 2017, the company invested $40 million in a food service factory at Carole Park near Brisbane to begin producing omelettes, fritters, patties, poached eggs and egg bakes (one of its latest products is French toast).
In June 2019, the company finished commissioning an $800,000 robotics line for omelettes that was specifically designed for the company.
The robotics line has been introduced to improve the process of producing omelettes, to eliminate repetitive strain injuries and improve quality. The omelettes are now automatically removed from the pans, folded and placed into Sunny Queen’s specialised freezing equipment and prepared for distribution.
While staff on the floor continue to check the quality of the product during the production, the robots have provided them with the opportunity to streamline operations. According to the company, results are optimised when robots and humans work together to deliver a consistent and quality product.
O’Hara said the company is also continuing to invest in free-range egg farms to meet increased consumer demand.
“The biggest growth of consumption is in free-range eggs, with free-range now taking 40% of the market,” he said.
“We are very proud to set the benchmark for free-range eggs, with our 1500 hens per hectare giving our hens six times more space when outdoors than the Australian Free Range Standard and most other free-range farms.
“It is this higher standard that has also seen Sunny Queen’s range of egg products expand into other markets around the world, including New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
“Three generations of farming knowledge is embedded into the way we produce eggs at Sunny Queen. It is this generational knowledge and passion for farming that has set the standard for what Sunny Queen is today.
“We take this job very seriously because we provide for the community, we do this every day with a smile.”
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