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The Victorian Government has supported a new fruit warehouse and cold storage facility in Mildura to help boost horticulture exports and local jobs. Victorian business VCT Refrigerated Transport has opened its $1.75 million facilities at its Irymple, Mildura depot, which has helped to create 35 local jobs as well as increase exports by around $20 million a year.

A warehouse, loading bays, cool rooms, cold treatment space and refrigeration, and a new office are newly established at the site and will enable VCT to meet supplier demand for fruit from the Mildura region.

The Victorian Government invested $300,000 to the project as part of its commitment to the region, with the improved facilities at VCT’s depot to also benefit up to 100 local fruit growers by allowing them to use the facilities to treat fresh produce before it is exported.

VCT compliance administrator Allan Witte told Food & Drink Business the project has enabled growers to consolidate, store and load both domestic and export orders all under one roof, in a temperature-controlled environment to suit their specific needs.

“Due to the new facility and capabilities it has given us, we have seen a 30 per cent increase in freight and 20 per cent increase in customers over the past 12 months, which in turn, has enabled us to employ an additional 35 people,” Witte says.

“Mildura is a large growing area for all manner of produce, in particular grapes, citrus and avocados, and supplies all domestic markets around Australia as well as export markets.”

“What you have consider is that any increase in temperature anywhere in the cold chain will affect the quality, freshness and shelf life of the product.”

“We cater for in-transit cold treatment, so having an unbroken cold chain from farm gate to the wharf is essential.”

VCT’s new warehouse and cold store facilities were made possible through the Victorian Government’s Regional Jobs Fund, which forms part of the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, a key part of the Government’s record $2.6 billion Delivering for Regional and Rural Victoria Program.

“This investment is great news for workers in the Mildura region involved in exporting fresh produce, as well as Australians who will be able to enjoy more fresh produce from regional Victoria,” says Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes.

“The build of a new warehouse and cold storage facilities is another example of how our Regional Jobs Fund is creating local jobs and supporting industries across regional Victoria.”

Due to VCT’s increase in freight demand and customers as a result of the improved facilities, the business has now added 20 full-time equivalent and 15 part-time and casual jobs for warehousing and transport industry workers.

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