Sweet taste of sticky success

Sweet taste of sticky success

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FRESH: Martin and Lachlan Drake and work experience student Caleb Kilpatrick with some of the bulk local and imported liquid food products they package and label.

FRESH: Martin and Lachlan Drake and work experience student Caleb Kilpatrick with some of the bulk local and imported liquid food products they package and label.

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A Victorian family is expanding their honey and packaging business.

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A Castlemaine family are expanding their business in central Victoria to provide a packing and labelling service for local manufacturers and importers of bulk liquid food products like honey.

Bendigo Honey and its sister company Tojo Packaging were formed by Martin and Lynda Drake, and their son, Lachlan, after they decided to grow their business from packing honey for commercial and smaller beekeepers in the region.

The Drakes package their own Pure Bendigo Gold honey in both retail and industrial user packs.

The honey is retailed through IGA Supermarkets in regional Victoria as well as specialist stores like butcher shops, greengrocers and organic food stores.

"We bought the original honey packing business about a decade ago when it was originally based in a back shed on a farm, then we relocated to the old Mayfair Park industrial complex in Bendigo," Martin Drake said.

"We realised thereafter that if we were to meet and maintain the national food safe standards as well as achieve our own personal business objectives, we needed to create a new production facility."

The Drakes receive bulk honey in everything from plastic pails to 200-litre drums, up to multiple 1000-litre intermediate bulk containers, known as IBCs, before it is packaged into a range of retail and industrial-scale honey packs.

Two years ago the family expanded their operation and purchased a greenfield site in Castlemaine where they built a large factory to process honey.

"We equipped it with leading technology ... plus we added a range of process engineering best practice aspects, so we are highly efficient packers and labellers for both hobby to commercial scale beekeepers," Mr Drake said.

To reduce their environmental footprint and energy costs, the Drakes installed large a large solar panel array on the factory roof.

"My professional background is in aeronautics and food industry process improvement, so the plan was to implement a highly efficient production facility and I think we have achieved this," Mr Drake said.

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