For leading fresh produce company OneHarvest, Gippsland is one of its major supply regions for the various vegetables that go into its pre-packaged salad and stir-fry products and is home of Australia’s largest fresh cut salad facility, Vegco, located in Bairnsdale.
OneHarvest is a multi-award-winning, vertically integrated fresh produce company operating nationally. The company comprises four businesses: Harvest FreshCuts, Vegco, Harvest Fresh Fruits and Harvest Farms. OneHarvest is a successful, third-generation, Australian-owned enterprise supplying fresh-cut salads, delicatessen salads, beetroot and fruits (mangoes and avocadoes) to major Australian supermarkets and independent grocers.
It also exports beetroot products and mangoes to south-east Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. East Gippsland makes good business sense for OneHarvest for several standout reasons. Located 300km east of Melbourne, Bairnsdale is located in the heart of Victoria’s premier vegetable-growing area – the Lindenow Valley. The region boasts excellent soil quality, enjoys a temperate climate and is one of the best-watered locations in Australia.
Bairnsdale lies almost midway between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s two largest cities, providing the production facility with a useful balance between ready access to raw materials and proximity to major retail markets, ensuring fresher products. As the regional centre for East Gippsland, it offers a steady supply of labour, both general and specialised/skilled.
The Vegco plant was established in 1994 and acquired by OneHarvest in 1998. It complements the original site at Wacol, Queensland which started in 1995 as Australia’s first salad manufacturing business.
Another manufacturing facility in Perth, Western Australia, which opened in 2006, and a new facility in south-west Sydney, round out the company’s national footprint. The Vegco plant employs more than 250 local people and sources more than 50 different vegetables lines (from spinach and cos lettuce to tatsoi and wombok) from around 40 suppliers in the local region.
In 2013 the parent company won the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Award for new investment (a $13 million expansion of its Brisbane Fresh Cut facility). Vegco has also won major regional awards such as Primary Producer of the Year in the Gippsland Business Awards and the Value-adding title in Monash University’s National Agribusiness Awards.
In 2014, Vegco established a $3.4 million beetroot-processing facility located within its Bairnsdale Fresh Cut plant. The establishment of a new range of value-added beetroot products has been extremely successful. These are now sold in approximately 1000 retail outlets nationally, as well as being exported to New Zealand and south-east Asia. The investment has positioned East Gippsland as the new hub of the Australian beetroot-processing industry and demonstrated the company’s willingness to invest in world’s best-practice technology and process in the Gippsland region. This has been recognised with the company receiving two prestigious national marketing awards for its launch of the innovative “Love Beets” range.
Importantly, the Vegco beetroot project also resulted in the rejuvenation of the Australian beetroot industry, at a time when virtually all other production had ceased or gone offshore. OneHarvest is a founding and very active member of the Produce Marketing Association ANZ (PMA ANZ), the stand-alone global affiliate of the US-based Produce Marketing Association, the leading global trade association for the produce industry.
OneHarvest is also a member of the US-based United Fresh Produce Association; the Australian Food & Grocery Council, which is the leading national organisation representing Australia’s packaged food, drink and grocery products manufacturers and Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited. Demonstrating its commitment to the East Gippsland region, OneHarvest is also a member of the East Gippsland Food Cluster.