The N&A Group and De Maio Family have cemented their partnership of almost 20 years with the establishment of a joint venture and the acquisition of the Sunland Fresh Fruit business, a premium producer of stone fruit, pome fruit and persimmons, located on the border of Victoria and NSW in the neighbouring towns of Cobram and Barooga.
The transaction and joint venture returns the Sunland assets to De Maio family management in partnership with N&A. The joint venture will be operating Sunland Fresh Fruit and a greenfield site the De Maio family have been developing since 2021. The combined assets, which will ultimately include 750ha of planted orchard, as well as a secure water portfolio, cool rooms and packing sheds, will provide an operational production base from which to further develop new and diversified horticultural products for the Australian domestic and export markets.
Rob Cathels of the N&A Group says “This JV is another exciting step in our strategy of collaborative consolidation, and compliments the N&A / Plunkett Orchards JV in Shepparton announced in 2019. The Group now has a vertically integrated supply base across the premium growing districts of Batlow, Cobram, Barooga and Shepparton, producing pome fruit, stone fruit, persimmons, citrus and berries to our customers.”
Brothers, Rob and Ian Cathels, state that the aim of this acquisition is to provide a platform for the N&A Group’s next generation. “We are confident that this transaction and partnership will deliver on the Group’s longer term strategy based around the three pillars of Sustainability, Innovation and Supply Chain Efficiency.”
“The orcharding division will benefit from operational efficiencies and further geographical diversification” says Ian “meanwhile our marketing division will deliver a more streamlined supply chain for our entire growing base. This acquisition allows the N&A Group to strengthen and expand domestic and export sales channels through the complete implementation of our marketing program, targeting sustainable supply formats.”
“We are particularly excited about the future of the premium Regal’In™ flat and round stone fruit varieties, which are in their first year of commercial production,” said Rob Cathels. “Ian and I first saw these varieties in Europe 10 years ago and immediately recognised their superior growing and eating qualities. The acquisition of Sunland Fresh Fruit, being a cornerstone grower in the Regal’In™ program, now gives the N&A Group input into the development of these varieties at every stage of the supply chain as a grower, packer and marketer on the East Coast.”
Peter De Maio says “bringing the Sunland Fresh Fruit orchards back under joint management is an exciting move for us that complements our greenfield developments. We believe our combined 150 years of family growing experience in the region, coupled with the strength of N&A’s marketing platform, will ensure the ongoing success of the further diversified Sunland Fresh Fruit business.”
This partnership and acquisition underpins the broader Group’s position in the Australian market as one of the country’s largest vertically-integrated horticultural suppliers, with a platform to sustainably produce and supply a diversified range of horticultural products.