MANBULLOO Mangoes will increase capacity at its Katherine mango farm by another 50% after signing an eight-year supply agreement with the Coles supermarket chain.
The agreement means that Manbullo will supply a staggering 50 million-plus mangoes to the retail giant over the eight years of the agreement.
To keep up with the growing demand for its product, Manbulloo will plant about 20,000 more trees at its Katherine farm made up of a mixture of Kensington Pride and R2E2s.
The announcement comes after Manbulloo received an interest-free loan from the Coles Nurture Fund last year to increase its production of locally grown mangoes by up to 30%. Speaking to Rural Weekly from Katherine, Manbulloo Mangoes managing director Marie Piccone said the agreement and the loan meant the company could get on with the business of doing what it did best, growing mangoes.
"I am very excited about the Coles contract,” Ms Piccone said.
"It gives us surety in the business. When we know what our return is going to be it makes it possible to work really closely with our retail partner, in this case Coles, to have a great retail offer on the table for consumers.
"Simply the closer the two areas of the business work together, I find the more likely you are then to do a good job.
"It provides us with a better opportunity to really understand what the retailer needs in terms of what we need to do with the fruit, and then we can optimise what we do.”
Ms Piccone said the company had now developed a growth plan with Coles.
Manbullo already had the land and water allocation available to undertake the proposed 440-hectare expansion in Katherine.
"We are working with a good partner and it really simplifies our marketing plan and takes a lot of the risk out of our future.”
The Katherine farm will supply mangoes mostly for the domestic market, and Ms Piccone said she believed this season's crop would deliver at least a medium to heavy yield.
"We have fruit set, there is a range of different sizes and we had a very strong flowering,” Ms Piccone said.
As part of the project, Manbulloo will employ about 60 additional people during peak season to harvest the extra volume and work in a second shift in its existing packing shed. The business will also invest up to $1million in extra picking machines once production volumes increase.
Coles launched the Coles Nurture Fund in April 2015, announcing it would provide $50 million in grants and interest-free loans over five years to businesses in the food and grocery sector so they could grow and innovate.
For more information, visit coles.com.au/nurturefund.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.