Valleyfresh and Etherington launch pre-pack joint venture

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Valleyfresh chairman Garth Lockyer and Grant Etherington of third generation family-owned wholesaler Etherington have launched a joint venture in Western Australia.

After more than 15 years of working together, Valleyfresh and Etherington are launching a new joint venture in Perth. Appropriately named Packing Station, the facility will offer prepacking, storage and distribution services to third parties when it opens its doors at E7 (Market City Perth) on May 1 2015.

“For a long time now there has been need for a better pre-pack option on Australia’s West Coast” says Valleyfresh chairman Garth Lockyer. “Pre-packing is a tricky business but by working on this project with Etherington, our combined expertise should make this venture a great success.” Lockyer states that whilst the two companies have been “mulling over the project” for the last 12 months, machinery is now on its way from Italy to the custom-built 900m2 facility.

“There are many great opportunities for pre-packing in Western Australia, and we have a

significant supplier base already interested in using this new service. The new facility we are launching will also offer a great opportunity for our eastern seaboard customers to have the confidence to go west,” says Valleyfresh Account Manager Simon Powell. “Taking three days to transport fresh produce pre-packed in Sydney or Melbourne has never been very viable” said Powell.

To facilitate a smooth and efficient launch, Valleyfresh will send experienced personnel to Perth to govern the roll out and the initial training of staff, whilst Etherington will introduce more people as the facility’s capacity grows. Both companies have emphasized that Packing Station will always remain independent, with both set to use the facility as paying customers. “I think the third party service is a massive selling point, and one that applies to us as much as anyone else. We expect to grow the business to the point where the machines are running year round,” says Grant Etherington. “It will be an independent packer and service provider for national suppliers to assist them in servicing Western Australian supermarkets. And that’s something that doesn’t currently exist.”

Whilst the premises will initially focus on citrus pre-packing, this will expand over time to include other ranges and categories. In terms of pre-pack options, Packing Station will offer flow-wrapping, net bags and strip bands for fresh produce, in a quality controlled and temperature controlled environment.

In realistic terms, the current objective is simply to get Packing Station “open for business” and start delivering a service previously unavailable in Perth. Both Valleyfresh and Etherington know that if the facility can deliver to a high level of customer satisfaction, then many new opportunities will arise, “We feel that with our combined commercial abilities this project will mesh well, and the timing for its launch is spot on.” states Garth Lockyer.

This Perth joint venture adds to Valleyfresh’s operations in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, representative offices in Peru and South Africa, and its US subsidiary Valleyfresh North America.