Takeover puts growth in pipeline for Abbotsleigh citrus
ONE of the biggest moves on the region's agriculture scene this season has been the takeover of Abbotsleigh Citrus by fruit and veg giant Nutrano.
The sale, finalised last month, was part of a buyout of more than 1000ha of land, across the Wallaville property as well Abbotsleigh's sister company Seven Fields, which comprises farms in Katherine, Mildura, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Abbotsleigh managing partner Michael McMahon said while it was "business as usual” for now, growth was on the cards.
He did not disclose how much money exchanged hands, saying that in these types of sales, "money's not everything”.
"It's not just the money, it's who's going to be the best custodians of the farm, the land, the people,” Mr McMahon said.
"Nutrano ticked a lot of boxes in that regard and they're keen to build on the success we've had in the last 12 or 13 years.
"Everyone's doing the same jobs and there has been no real changes to how things run at the moment... but (the new owners) are definitely keen to grow the business.”
A big attraction for the Australian-owned buyer was Abbotsleigh's vertical integration.
"We grow, pack, market and ship all our own fruit here and overseas,” Mr McMahon said.
"The current management structure (will remain) in place, and we'll be part of shaping that future, which is positive.”
Between 150 and 200 employees work during the height of the season at Abbotsleigh, which produces around 3,500 tonnes each of mandarins and lemons as well as oranges and this year, Mr McMahon hopes to produce 600 tonnes of blueberries.
The farm exports to countries including China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Middle East and said with demand out of Asia still on the rise, "agriculture is in a good place”.
"It's an exciting industry to be in,” the 39-year-old said.
"We just need more young people - and that is starting to happen.”
As farming becomes more corporatised, "the variety of career paths in our industry is staggering”, he added.
"It's not just fruit picking.”