$7m Bindoon shed packs a punch for local citrus export

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

A new $7 million fruit packing facility which opened in Bindoon yesterday marks the coming of age for a local family business, and will help drive fresh produce exports from the region to markets across the globe.

The 7000sqm facility, the biggest of its type in WA, is a joint venture between Moora Citrus, headed by Sue Middleton and Michael Brennan, and the Kay, Gillon and Yildiz families.

Ms Middleton said the facility would enable Moora Citrus to consolidate all of its packing on one site.

In recent years the business spread its packing across several sheds, which meant a less consistent product was reaching market.

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Called Moora Citrus Packers, the pack shed is fitted with advanced sorting software and has the capacity to pack, cool, inspect, load and seal containers straight to port for high-biosecurity protocol export markets, including South Korea, Thailand and China.

Mark English, Bridgett Kay, Vanessa Gillon, Shane Kay, Alan Yildiz, and Sue Middleton, outside the new 7000 square metre Moora Citrus Packers.
Camera IconMark English, Bridgett Kay, Vanessa Gillon, Shane Kay, Alan Yildiz, and Sue Middleton, outside the new 7000 square metre Moora Citrus Packers. Credit: Jenne Brammer

Ms Middleton said Moora Citrus already exported its fruit through a freight order system that involved time-consuming repackaging, over which they could retain little control.

“It meant fruit wasn’t necessarily packed how we wanted and to our customers’ requirements,” she said. “This enables us to pack our own containers, do it right and do it once.”

To start operating from next year, Moora Citrus Packers can be used by WA fruit producers, including those growing avocados, mangoes and blueberries.

“With some retrofitting to our machinery, we could pack other types of fruit,” she said.

A recent study by RSM found there was a significant shortfall in the packing capacity for fresh produce north of Perth. In alleviating this, Moora Citrus Packers expects to generate an extra 15 permanent jobs for Bindoon, plus opportunities for seasonal staff.

In full production, Moora Citrus and Moora Citrus Packers will have a joint turnover of $24 million, which Ms Middleton said would create 50-60 jobs in the service supply chain.

The first trees on Moora Citrus’ 210ha orchard were planted in 2005 and the orchard is still reaching full production. The orchard harvested 5000-6000 tonnes of citrus this year, expecting to reach 8000 tonnes next year.

At full production, expected within five years, 13,000 tonnes will be harvested from 171,000 trees.

“The new packing shed is a major milestone in our vision to to create a local family business and replace citrus important from the Eastern States,” she said.

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