A Cobram fruit packing business is investing heavily in its future, with a $900000 project set to help the business expand and explore new opportunities.
JV Orchards is owned and operated by brothers Joe and John Ventre, with Joe’s son Anthony also joining the business.
The project will be completed with some funding assistance from the Victorian Government, aiming to develop its fruit packing and export facilities and create an additional 15 jobs.
‘‘The project will be an expansion to our shed, which is under way now, and we’ll also be expanding our coolstore capacity,’’ Joe Ventre said.
‘‘We’re really excited to be able to expand and employ more people.’’
JV Orchards is a fresh fruit grower and supplier established in 1992, distributing predominantly across the east coast of Australia, and works with a large variety of fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, nectarines and lemons.
Mr Ventre said the expansion would also allow them to further explore export opportunities, particularly to the Asian market following the China Australia Free Trade Agreement signed in 2015.
‘‘We’ve done a bit of export this year, which has been quite good.
‘‘As we grow the business, we’ll be looking to grow our area of export, hopefully leading into a lot more in the next season — we’re just taking baby steps.’’
The investment will be continuing the growth of the family business, which transformed from a cannery operation to its current operation today, including an increased land area.
‘‘We’re expecting the expansion will also create more jobs, hopefully more full-time jobs,’’ Mr Ventre said.
‘‘It’s great to see the government supporting the development and helping small businesses to grow.’’
The expansion will secure 14 existing jobs, create an additional 18 jobs during construction and result in a total of 15 new jobs upon completion.
New positions will include machinery operators, as well as quality control, logistics, administration and maintenance roles.
The upgrade will significantly enhance the capacity, productivity and competitiveness of the facility and will create further export revenue from the Cobram region.
The project includes investment in new fruit handling and packing facilities, additional cold storage facilities and improved facilities for employees.
It will enable the company to meet domestic and export demand peaks including Chinese New Year.
Victorian Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said JV Orchards’ expansion was a win for northern Victoria.
‘‘It will create 15 new jobs and develop the skills of the local workforce in Cobram and the region more broadly,’’ she said.
‘‘This is a terrific example of a family-owned Victorian agri-business seeking to capitalise on the insatiable demand from Asia for our quality produce.’’
State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said it was a win for local jobs and a further boost to the booming horticulture industry.
‘‘We know how incredible our produce is across the Goulburn Valley and now it’s time the rest of the world gets a taste for it,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘With horticulture exports up 26 per cent in the last year, this is just another important step the Andrews Labor Government is taking to maximise the industry’s potential.’’
Through its $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, the government is supporting projects that make regional and rural Victoria a better place to live, work and invest.