Oz Group Co-op is set to enhance its reputation as a clean, green producer of premium berries by implementing technology to trace berries from the farm all the way to supermarket shelves.
The farmer-owned co-operative has been awarded a $316,491 grant from the Australian Government’s Traceability Grants Program to help deliver the project which will boost the Coffs Coast’s reputation as a producer of clean, green and safe berries.
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said this was great news for the region’s blueberry industry.
“Oz Group is a smart thinking Co-op that is leveraging the benefits of technology to streamline processes across its packhouse and enhance its reputation,” he said.
“Our Government has backed them in this, not only with the traceability grant, but in 2017 through the $1,050,000 Regional Jobs and Investment Packages Program – both competitive grants programs that the Co-op applied for.
“This grant will support Oz Group to implement both inkjet and thermal labelling technology through its berry supply chain, giving customers complete confidence in its clean, green and safe food practices.”
The technology will work by installing ink jet printers on each blueberry packing line in the packhouse to individually code each punnet with specific information about its farm origin. Labelling technology will also be added to the punnet trays to ensure they also can be traced back to the grower and the origins of their fruit, giving peace of mind to the consumer.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said this was one of the Traceability Grants Program’s best projects.
“This great program is providing $7 million in grants nationally over two rounds until June 2023,” he said.
“This round is enabling sheep and goat processors in New South Wales to pilot the use of electronic radio frequency identification device readers and Australian Eggs Ltd to develop software for its national supply chain traceability mechanism.
“Aussies love their homegrown berries, meat and eggs, and so does the world. These projects will let customers here and abroad know more about the origin of our fantastic produce.”
Oz Group CEO Adam Bianchi said the new traceability technology would be installed over the next 12 months.
“This year our packhouse has gone ahead in leaps and bounds,” he said.
“We have just completed a two-year, $2.1 million upgrade of our fruit grading, packing and handling equipment and have further automated our packhouse by installing the pick and place robotic arm.
“This grant is advancing our push to become the leader in Australian blueberry supply.
“Our goal is to continue to support our local farmers and community through ensuring our business is sustainable and that Aussies have access to the wonderful produce our local farmers have to offer.”
For more information on the Traceability Grants Program visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.
Mr Littleproud – Douglas Ferguson 0455 448 985
Mr Conaghan – Liz Spry 0418 928 744