Large storage facilities filled with molasses.
Large storage facilities filled with molasses. Candyce Braithwaite

Riverina structure forms integral part of rural scene

FROM the street, Riverina looks like just another grain business.

There are many silos, conveyor belts and you will see many trucks going in and out each day.

But it's not until you sit down and talk to the employees that you work out it's not just another business, Riverina is a vital part of our community.

So what goes on behind the scenes at Riverina?

I was lucky enough to take a tour through the plant with Riverina territory manager Glen Whitton and was amazed to see what goes on behind closed doors.

Riverina is one of the most trusted names for producers when it comes to stock feeds.

And their plant on McEvoy St isn't just about putting some grain into bags and loading it onto trucks to hit the shelves of the produce stores.

The plant is known as a "suspension supplement plant", which is combined with a dry feed mill.

This means on site they mix high-quality nutritional supplements for animals.

"We work closely with our nutritionists in our Brisbane office, as well as outside consultants," Mr Whitton said.

"We add things like vitamins, minerals, urea and protein meals to help make the complete feed supplement.

"It's important to get the right formula mix into the live stock as well."

Mr Whitton said mixing the feed was a complicated process which involved following something like a recipe.

"It's important the right ingredients go in at the right time," he said.

"The product that we produce has to be of high quality to meet the demands of the end consumer in beef, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs.

"Most of this type of food that we consume like this in this region would have had access to Riverina feeds."

The bagging machine makes lighter work for employees.
The bagging machine makes lighter work for employees.

Mr Whitton said Riverina sourced its grain locally.

"There's such high-quality produce around this region," he said.

"Our grain comes from Clifton, Allora, Killarney and Yelarbon.

"But sometimes we get grain from further out west like Wee Waa and Moree too."

Mr Whitton said they'd been "flat-out" with many farmers feeling the dry times.

"We know when it's starting to get dry, the phone starts ringing off the hook," he said.

Each day around 50 to 70 trucks travelled over the weigh bridge at Riverina, and they were dropping off and picking up more than 300 tonnes of grain each day.

"There would be around 100 truck drivers that depend on the work," Mr Whitton said.

"And they are bringing money back to our community too, stopping for fuel and food."

While Riverina moves a lot of produce around Queensland and New South Wales, overseas export is also a vital part of the business.

"We ship produce all over the world," Mr Whitton said.

"It goes to places like Japan and the Pacific Islands.

"Riverina has been trading internationally for over 40 years."

Mr Whitton has worked for Riverina for 11 years and his position involves a lot of travelling - up to 100,000km a year.

"I visit clients all over and work closely with feedlots, beef, dairy, pig and poultry producers," he said.

"I buy a lot of the grain for the mills and head out to farms and check crops and grab samples.

"It's rewarding because I get to help people with their business and help work out the best options to help them financially."

While Mr Whitton is out chatting to clients a fair bit, he believes the face of the business is really the office staff, mill workers and truck drivers.

"Whether they are in our trucks or part of Rob Nolan Transport, they are the ones the customers get to see all the time," he said.

"They are out there doing the right things on the farms.

"We have a lot of trucking orders come in each week and it's a big operation to get it all done correctly."

Riverina also gives back to the community supporting with sponsorship of local groups.

"We like to support the people who support us," Mr Whitton said.

Riverina operates feed mills here in Warwick, Casino, Oakey, Murgon, Mackay and Brisbane.

The company originated in the Riverina District of Southern New South Wales in the late 1920s.

In 1955 the company's activities extended to Queensland and during the subsequent years Riverina has serviced both domestic and overseas markets with a complete range of compound stock feeds and feed ingredients.

In February 1988 the company was restructured with the involvement of Mitsubishi as a shareholder.

This association has assisted in expanding markets both within Australia and overseas.

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