24/09/2002 - 22:00

Industry evolution means further growth for Canon

24/09/2002 - 22:00

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WITH the ink drying on a $2 million contract to supply a chain of eastern States supermarkets, Canon Foods is embarking on further expansion.The convenience foods producer – it focuses on chicken meat – is drawing up the final plans for new faciliti...

Industry evolution means further growth for Canon

WITH the ink drying on a $2 million contract to supply a chain of eastern States supermarkets, Canon Foods is embarking on further expansion.

The convenience foods producer – it focuses on chicken meat – is drawing up the final plans for new facilities and is considering two sites, one in Malaga and one in Canning Vale.

Work is expected to start on the $3.5 million new plant by the end of 2003 and it is hoped to have the initial capacity to increase the company’s production capacity by more than 500 tonnes a year.

Canon Foods CEO Richard Pace said it had to be a major expansion because, with the new contract, the company had outgrown its six-year-old Canning Vale factory.

“We need to purpose build. The end result is we’ll have more space than we have now but the space will be in more useful places,” he said.

Mr Pace said the company had enjoyed 300 per cent growth in the six years since it had moved to its current Canning Vale premises.

“The evolution of our industry has gone in ways we didn’t expect,” he said.

Mr Pace said the biggest surprise had been the rapid growth of the home meals replacement market.

“We sort of started into that market when we built our current plant. But the market has expanded to a level that we didn’t expect,” he said.

The company is also currently seeking a worldwide patent on its Micro Free Guarantee technology, which allows it to certify that its chicken products are free of the main bacteria that cause food poisoning.

That technology, which is also licensed in New Zealand, has allowed it to expand its reach into the eastern States.

“Our key difference had been price and freshness,” Mr Pace said.

“With the micro free it meant we could distribute to Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.”

The company has offices in Melbourne and Sydney to control the distribution of its products to more than 2,000 supermarkets in those cities and Adelaide.

“We’re sending 40 pallets a week of our products to the east coast,” Mr Pace said.

Canon Foods’ manufacturing activities are divided into three divisions – cooked and diced chicken meat product for lunch bars, school canteens and the like; pre-prepared meals for restaurants, supermarkets and hotels; and heat-and-eat convenience foods for supermarkets.

Canon Foods was started in 1984 and now employs 80 staff at its Canning Vale plant.

The company was a key player in the “maggots in the meat” incident that occurred during construction of the Murrin Murrin nickel mine.

Because Canon could supply sealed, wrapped chicken pieces it was able to supply the construction workforce.

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