Italian dairy giant Parmalat is making good on its $128 million purchase of major Western Australian milk and juice producer Harvey Fresh.
Harvey Fresh general manager Paul Lorimer said the group was aiming to lift exports by more than 40 per cent to 50 million litres per annum, up from 35m litres when Parmalat bought the business from the Sorgiovanni family in 2014.
The 29-year-old Harvey-based business produces about 150m litres of milk and holds around 20 per cent of the local market, although it is the state’s major dairy exporter with estimated offshore sales of around $35 million.
Apart from wanting to meet the needs of national retailers operating in WA, Mr Lorimer said the export business potential was a major part of the decision-making behind Parmalat’s move to purchase the business.
The Australian division had strong growth ambitions, including in the export market, where WA is well placed to service South-East Asia, and the Harvey Fresh plant had the capacity and state-of-the-art technology to capitalise on regional demand.
The Harvey Fresh business installed a new UHT milk production facility in 2009-10 and it also has the ability to produce big volumes of extended life fresh milk with a 40-day shelf life; which means it can be shipped from Fremantle to markets as far away as Taiwan, so long as it is refrigerated.
Mr Lorimer said a key concern was to have suitable ships leaving WA more frequently to service this growth business and reduce the time delay at this end.
“One of the challenges going forward is logistics,” he said.
“We have one shipment a week; that limits our potential.
“The issue in WA is … while there are heaps of dry cargo vessels, the number of fresh and refrigerated cargo ships are few and far between.
“Putting on more, smaller boats would be better than putting on one bigger boat.”