Arnott's Group has announced an $8m upgrade to its Shepparton plant, as part of an infrastructure investment programme to upgrade its facilities over the next three years.
The upgrade will see a 30 per cent increase in overall production at Campbell's Shepparton over the next 12 months, and a 400 per cent increase in export volume.
More than half of the spend will be on Australian services, equipment and labour, with the remainder spent on importing equipment.
Arnott's Group said it expects $10m in indirect economic benefits from using more farm produce, increased operational expenditure and new employment in regional Victoria. The copmany expects to employ up to 12 more people as production ramps up.
The upgrade will result in the plant manufacturing an extra 16.5 million kilograms of Campbell's soups and stocks each year.
The group owns the licencing rights to produce Campbell's products in Asia Pacific as part of its consumer food brands portfolio.
While domestic demand for canned soup has been flat and declining in some categories, demand in Asian countries is strong. By making the most of export opportunities, the company would also address the current under-utilisation of the Shepparton plant.
The local team will take over preparation of Campbell’s soups and stocks for export to new markets including Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, as well increase exports to existing markets in Hong Kong and Japan over the next 12 months. These products are currently manufactured overseas within The Arnott’s Group’s global sourcing network.
The three-phase upgrade will secure the financial future of the Shepparton plant.
The Shepparton plant has more than 100 Victorian-based suppliers, many based in the Goulburn Valley. Local suppliers provide not only the fresh produce that goes into our soups, but also the cans that deliver it to homes, and services required to keep the plant operating safely.
Visy’s GM of food can business, Rohan Wiltshire, said, “Visy is a proud supporter of both local and regional manufacturing and is pleased to support The Arnott’s Group in this expansion of their Campbell’s production capability in Shepparton.
“In support of Campbell's growth in Shepparton, Visy has continued to invest at both our Coburg and Shepparton can plants in order to meet the growing needs of Campbell’s and the Arnott’s Group. This is an exciting project and one that Visy is proud to be part of."
The Arnott’s Group CEO, George Zoghbi, said soup had been made in Shepparton for 60 years.
“We have a rich history in Australian food-making, and this upgrade at Shepparton shows our commitment to making more delicious food right here. We are proud that this iconic plant in regional Victoria will drive more Australian exports to Asia. We plan to be a regional powerhouse of food brands based in Australia, and today, Shepparton brings us closer to that goal," Zoghbi said.
“Declining domestic demand for soup products had meant our Shepparton plant was under-utilised. This upgrade also secures the plant’s medium-term future.”
The Shepparton upgrade will be delivered in three phases, with the first commercial production of new export volume having commenced on 1 December 2020.
This first phase will distribute soup made in Shepparton into Asian markets which was previously sourced out of Campbell's US network and in Malaysia.
By June 2021, a $3.9m investment in new plant and machinery will enable Shepparton to produce larger soup can sizes in demand in a range of Asian markets, including a 1.4-kilogram can. The project involves converting and relocating an existing production line to fill, close and pack cans, and the purchase and installation of new machinery.
A further $3.9 million is planned for the next financial year to upgrade plant infrastructure and equipment used to make non-canned products, such as stocks.
Campbell’s Australasia, part of The Arnott’s Group, has been a part of the Shepparton community for nearly 60 years, making high quality soups, stocks, broths and juices sourced from local and Australian food producers. The food produced in Shepparton includes the brands, Country Ladle, Chunky, Simply Soup, Campbell’s Condensed, Campbell’s Real Stock and V8 juices, all of which are made under licence from the Campbell Soup Company. The Shepparton plant produces 55 million kilograms of high-quality food and beverages annually.