SOME 350 million pieces of tropical fruit per year will be ripened through a new facility in Melbourne.
A five-year agreement between supermarket giant, Coles, and Queensland-based growers collective, Mackays Marketing, has seen the construction of the facility in order to keep up with the demand for mangoes, bananas and avocados.
The $43 million investment from Coles will see fruit from farmers across Australia, including the North Queensland growing regions, like Tully, Lakeland, Innisfail and Mareeba, ripened to then be sold in more than 270 supermarkets across Victoria and South Australia.
The 7280 square metre facility uses reversible air-flow ripening technology which is reportedly 70 per cent more energy efficient than traditional "tarped" ripening systems, producing fruit that has been ripened as it is needed, improving shelf life for customers and reducing waste.
The Five-star Green Star procedure incorporates a number of sustainability measures, including rainwater tanks with a combined capacity of 100,000L and more than 1790 solar panels.
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Mackays marketing chief executive officer, Richard Clayton, said the partnership will help with maintaining supply.
"Our farming families are proud of the produce they grow and excited to see a reduction of waste produce as we extend the shelf life of the fruit," Mr Clayton said.
"Australians need to keep their immune systems strong and there's no better way to do this than a regular diet of fresh fruit and vegetables."
Coles group chief commercial officer, Greg Davis, said the ripening facility would help drive generational sustainability for Coles and Australian farmers.
"We're delighted to be supporting horticulture jobs across Queensland and other growing regions by replacing old technology with more sustainable alternatives," Mr Davis said.
"Bananas are one of the most popular products in our supermarkets, and by partnering with key growers and investing in sustainability throughout our supply chain we can continue to offer top-quality Australian fruit to our customers."
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