(This article was prepared as a part of our eNewsletter dated 11 June 2020. Fill in the form at the bottom of our main webpage to subscribe for future eNewsletter)
AGRIFresh is one of Western Australia’s largest family-owned and operated orchard. Its 300ha orchards are located in the central west region of Dandaragan, 200 km north of Perth City. The company produces premium citrus (oranges and mandarins) and mangos under a number of product brands, including their flagship premium Zestie brand.
Mr Joseph Ling, Managing Director of AGRIFresh, co-founded the company in 2005. Mr Ling migrated to Australia from Malaysia in 1990. He is a passionate entrepreneur, with creative and innovative insights in food production and global marketing.
AGRIFresh’s fully integrated orchard business encompasses growing, packing and marketing operations. The business manages over 200,000 fruit trees, and has an 8,000 sq m state of the art packing facility equipped with colour, size and blemish vision grading line to ensure fruit consistency and quality. The facility includes a large cold storage area and handling equipment to maintain robust cold chain to market and port. The company employs 24 permanent staff and an additional 80 casual workers during the harvesting season.
The fruits are primarily sold into WA’s domestic market. Mr Ling has established a strong distribution footprint to major wholesalers and supermarket chains Look for delicious Zestie oranges the next time you shop, they are in season now!
In 2015, Mr Ling started to export premium AGRIFresh products. A major marketing theme is Australia’s clean and safe environment for fruit and food production. It’s products are now shipped to 13 global markets including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Canada and the Middle East. This effort in promoting WA products earned AGRIFresh numerous accolades, including Exporter of the Year 2018, and Agribusiness Award Winner with Exporter Industry Award.
As a food producer, AGRIFresh is considered essential services and its operation was not directly impacted by COVID-19 shutdown. However there were disruption to logistics and marketing in many of its export markets.
Look ahead, Mr Ling anticipates two key business challenges. The first is weather – a major unknown for any farming enterprise. AGRIFresh is employing aids such as frost monitors and wind machine to guard against extreme weather. The second challenge is the shortage of skilled labour which is vital for business growth and development. Technology is transforming farming just as it has transformed every other industry. Mr Ling is actively seeking to introduce advance techniques such as sensor driven machinery, remote sensing data collection and aerial imaging.
Mr Ling is optimistic about AGRIFresh’s future. He believes the trend towards staying healthy and eating fresher, more wholesome food will benefit his business. Increased global demand for food security and hygiene are also major positive for his export initiatives.