One of Australia's largest fruit growers, Montague, has opened a new, environmentally-sustainable packing and distribution facility at Narre Warren North.
The new 53,200 square metre fruit processing facility is part of a $66-million development, which showcases local construction materials including recycled timber from the original barn at the Narre Warren North orchard, alongside a range of environmentally-sustainable technology.
The facility will use state-of-the-art technology, with three grading systems in place to ensure the highest quality of fruit to consumers.
"It's a vote of confidence in the outlook, and in the world's demand for fresh, clean, healthy and natural produce from Australia," Montague managing director Scott Montague said.
His grandfather, Bill Montague planted the first orchard in the area, 73 years ago.
"We now grow almost five million trees, with a network of growers across six states of Australia," he said.
Montague exports to Asia, Europe and North America.
"As leaders of our industry, we continue to explore innovative ways to ensure sustainable operations in our business practices," Montague chief innovation officer Rowan Little said.
"Through this we can continue to deliver better quality and consistent fruit to our consumers."
The plant's stonefruit grader began operation in mid-January 2021, and all apple production lines have been fully operational from mid-March 2021.
The site will see Montague's stonefruit packing capacity increase by 166 per cent, bringing in 58.3 million pieces of stonefruiteach season.
Montague's annual apple packing capacity will increase by 75pc, being able to deliver 227 million apples a year.
A key focus for the development was increasing environmental responsibility.
Mr Montague said the facility had been built to the highest environmental standards.
"These include 100 kilowatts of solar panels, energy efficient thermal design and water collection, treatment and use," he said.