National Foods to phase out production at Berri’s Riverland plant

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 10th November 2009

National Foods today announced it intends to phase out production at its Riverland juice manufacturing site by the end of the current financial year.

This decision will result in the loss of 64 jobs and follows a decision in September not to resume production of long shelf-life juice at the Riverland site, after manufacturing equipment was severely damaged during an August break-in.

A review of the site’s long-term sustainability was announced in June and the long shelf life element of that review was accelerated when the equipment was vandalised in August. National Foods also decided to accelerate the final component of the review as it ‘recognised it was not in its employees’ best interests to be left in “limbo” until early next year awaiting an outcome’.

National Foods will continue to source fruit from the Riverland area.

The company’s National Operations Manager Juice, Tony Owen, said the decision to close the site by the end of June 2010 was a difficult one.

“Any decision that results in job losses is taken extremely seriously. Today’s announcement is about helping to ensure our juice products remain affordable for our consumers today and in the future,” Mr Owen said. “The contribution that our people have made to manufacturing quality products has been outstanding. This decision is not in any way a reflection on them or the senior management at Riverland.”

“When we take into consideration the excess manufacturing capability we have on the Eastern seaboard, where the majority of the market is located and the declining fruit volume in the Riverland area, the review identified that this site is not viable in the long-term.”