GEN green banana

Coles has invested A$43m in a state-of-the-art ripening facility in Melbourne that will support banana, avocado and mango growers in North Queensland and provide customers with top-quality fresh fruit all year round.

The brand-new facility in Melbourne’s west was built as part of a five-year agreement between Coles and growers collective Mackays Marketing and has the capacity to ripen 350m pieces of fruit every year.

Coles will use this facility to ripen fruit from farmers across Australia, including the North Queensland growing regions, such as Tully, Lakeland, Innisfail and Mareeba before being sold in more than 270 supermarkets across Victoria and South Australia.

Using best in class new reversible air flow ripening technology, the 7,280m2 facility is 70 per cent more energy efficient than traditional ‘tarped’ ripening systems, producing fruit that has been ripened as it is needed, improving shelf life for customers and reducing waste.

Mackays Marketing chief executive, Richard Clayton, said the partnership with Coles would be instrumental in encouraging greater consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables to create a healthier nation.

“This project has bought best practice ripening technology to Coles and this will help us continue to regularly provide the very best quality bananas, avocados and mangoes to consumers,” said Clayton.

“Our farming families are proud of the produce they grow and excited to see a reduction of waste produce as we extend the shelf life of the fruit.

“Australians need to keep their immune systems strong and there’s no better way to do this than a regular diet of fresh fruit and vegetables,” he added.

The 5-star green star facility incorporates a number of sustainability measures, including rainwater tanks with a combined capacity of 100,000 litres and more than 1,790 solar panels, capable of generating electricity equivalent to the annual usage of more than 86 average Australian homes.

Coles Group chief commercial officer Greg Davis said the ripening facility would help drive generational sustainability for Coles and Australian farmers.

“We’re delighted to be supporting horticulture jobs across Queensland and other growing regions by replacing old technology with more sustainable alternatives,” said Davis.

“Bananas are one of the most popular products in our supermarkets, and by partnering with key growers and investing in sustainability throughout our supply chain we can continue to offer top-quality Australian fruit to our customers.”