Funds put citrus in limelight

The West Australian

West Australian customers will soon have access to more locally-grown limes, mandarins and a new variety of seedless lemons through a $500,000 Coles grant provided to a citrus grower at Harvey.

Announced at WAFarmers' Heart of WA dinner last week, Pina, Steve and Andrew Pergoliti from Harvey Citrus Pty Ltd are the second small business in WA to receive a Coles Nurture Fund grant.

The family business will use the funds to expand their farm by planting more than 9000 new trees, which will mean locally-grown limes and mandarins are available to WA consumers for more months of the year.

Harvey Citrus will also introduce a new line of seedless lemons so they can be available to customers in the west. Harvey Citrus operations manager Andrew Pergoliti said the grant would not only allow them to increase the production and supply of fruit but would also create new jobs and business efficiencies.

"Receiving this grant has added to our confidence and as a small, family-run business we just want to keep providing our consumers with the freshest and best tasting fruit available," he said.

"We are planning to increase our lime production by 800 per cent and mid-season mandarins by 150 per cent.

"As our business expands and we begin producing more fruit we will also have the opportunity to hire extra full-time team members and more seasonal workers.

"We have also purchased new acreage and in the coming months will be buying upgraded machinery and equipment.

"To be one of the first recipients of the Nurture Fund in WA is very exciting and it's wonderful to see Coles giving back to the local community and supporting the citrus industry."

Since starting to supply Coles in a handful of stores in WA more than 30 years ago, Harvey Citrus has become one of the State's most innovative citrus growers. "Over the past 30 years, Coles has given us the financial security and confidence to slowly grow and expand our business, while still maintaining our high standards of quality control," Mr Pergoliti said.

"It's funny to look back and think that we started out hand-delivering our fruit to individual Coles stores across Perth, Rockingham and Narrogin and now we have a truck collect our fresh produce to take it to the Coles distribution centre four times a week. We have grown so much over the years and we are looking forward to a long and sustainable future."

Coles State general manager Neil Lake said Harvey Citrus was exactly the type of innovative business that the Coles Nurture Fund had been set up to support. "We've chosen Harvey Citrus because the company is innovative with a strong business plan," he said.

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