OZ GROUP'S blueberry packing house in Coffs Harbour is now one of the most sophisticated in the country after a two-year, $2.1 million upgrade.
Local MP Pat Conaghan visited the blueberry processing facility today to see the new, highly sophisticated fruit grading, packing and handling equipment first-hand.
"The technology Oz Group now uses to pack and distribute berries is impressive with fruit being photographed and graded automatically by a sorting machine capable of photographing and categorising 260 berries per second," he said.
"I'm pleased the project was backed by the Federal Liberal-Nationals Government through a $1,050,000 grant from the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages Program as it has supported 24 jobs and will further the farmer-owned co-operative's export pursuits.
"I congratulate Oz Group's owners and CEO Adam Bianchi for investing in the two-year transformational project."
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Government's investment in this job-making infrastructure would provide long term benefits to the Coffs Coast region.
"In addition to the increased capabilities and cost efficiencies within the pack house, this investment will also enable Oz Group to be competitive in export markets and help distribute domestic supply," Mr McCormack said.
"By supporting 12 jobs in construction and creating an expected 12 ongoing jobs after completion, in addition to using local businesses and supplies, this project has helped to bring economic prosperity to Coffs Harbour."
Oz Group chief executive officer Adam Bianchi said the advanced fruit grading, packing and handling equipment complete with metal detectors and check-weighers has brought the Coffs Harbour facility into the top tier of pack houses throughout the country.
"The use of these machines also means our workforce is becoming more and more skilled, it also means more local jobs," he said.
"This technology also supports our local farmers to become more competitive through improved packing efficiencies and providing higher quality fruit to the consumer."