Montague facility crop

Montague’s new53,200m2 packhouse and distribution facility is on track to be operational in time for the 2021 apple season.

The centre is part of a 12ha, A$54m (US$37m) multi-use complex being built at the Australian fresh produce company’s headquarters in Narre Warren North, Victoria.

Construction began in September 2019 and will be completed in phases with the build of the packing facility set to be finished at the end of this year.

Installation of packing equipment is scheduled to commence in mid-September, which will mean the new stonefruit 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.

Once completed the facility is expected to process over 260,000,000 pieces of fruit annually, which will be distributed to markets across Australia and the world.Rowan Little, chief innovation officer of Montague, previously said the facility would help with the company's growing exports.

“The new capacity will give us the ability to export more easily, but still, 80 per cent of the product will be for domestic consumption,” Little said.

The multi-use complex will also feature a hospitality development that comprises of a café, retail space, apple and stonefruit sales, public picking orchard and seasonal exhibition space. This is set to open by mid-January 2021.

Little said the project had been impacted Covid-19 restrictions but support from government had helped Montague keep it on track.

“We are grateful to the State and Federal Governments for granting us special permission to increase and facilitate construction from 13 September,” said Little.

“This will mean that our facility will be fully operational in time for the apple harvest season next year, with improved capacity to process and pack the next crop and provide much needed fruit to the Victorian and broader Australians consumers.”