Factory taking shape
JUST one month ago it was a slab of concrete, but the Grove Juice Factory at Axis Industrial Park is fast taking shape.
Despite the uninviting weather conditions yesterday, a group of 10 people – including managing director Greg Willis – inspected the factory's progress.
One of the visitors included the State Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation director Craig Rutledge, who said the development was a positive for the region.
“It's great to see businesses like Grove Juice investing in Warwick,” he said.
“It's good for the town and future expansions are likely to go ahead if business economics are strong.”
Construction work is four weeks ahead of schedule and the Kenilworth St factory is expected to begin fruit processing in October.
The fruit – amounting to 500,000 apples and oranges each day – will come from growers in Stanthorpe and Moree.
“Grove Juice has planted about 250,000 citrus trees in the Moree area, with plans to expand our fruit crops over the next five years,” Mr Willis said.
“The reason for this is because one of the owners is a cotton farmer there and he's converting a percentage of his high-water usage farm into a low-water usage citrus farm.”
Mr Willis said the citrus trees used one-sixth of the amount of water of the cotton crop and would reduce the carbon footprint.
An agent in Stanthorpe has also been set up to purchase apples directly from local growers for the juice.
The site's geographical proximity to Stanthorpe was one of the reasons Mr Willis decided to move processing to Warwick.
Mr Willis said the opening of the processing factory was the first of two stages.
“Stage two is subject to local and State Government support and will involve moving our entire packaging and distribution business to Warwick,” he said.
“We plan to bottle on site and won't have to tanker at all to Brisbane. We'll just be distributing.”
Mr Willis said his aim was to increase Grove's production capacity and aggressively develop his international and international markets.
“We are the only Australian-owned juice company actively investing in ‘farm to fridge' vertical investment in our industry,” he said.
Eight tankers worth of product will leave the factory each week.
40% of the product will land on international shelves.
The company is about to spend a huge amount on a re-launch.
It has the capacity to grow 100% at Kenilworth St.