Shepparton Preserving Company has 100 reasons to celebrate after officially joining the centenary club.
The fruit processing plant celebrated its 100th birthday yesterday, reconsigning the employees, customers, suppliers and government stakeholders who played a part in its colourful history.
SPC managing director Reg Weine said the event was a significant milestone for the business, having overcome many challenges during the past 100 years.
‘‘We continue to transform and modernise the SPC business, but some things haven’t changed a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘We still take the best-quality fruit grown in the Goulburn Valley and preserve it in the same way we have for a century.’’
The celebration also marked a milestone for a number of the 136 growers, some of whose families are the fifth generation to be supplying produce to the processing plant since its inception in 1918.
James Cornish and his family are fourth generation fruit growers from Cobram, who have been suppling pears and peaches to SPC for more than 80 years.
‘‘We originally started in Ardmona by my grandfather, who then brought an orchard in Cobram in 1946,’’ he said.
Mr Cornish said his father left Shepparton High School early to run his family’s farm during World War II, despite his father having eyes on a different career.
‘‘I guess it is a lifeblood and something I don’t really intend to change, but it has certainly been a roller-coaster ride of recent years,’’ he said.
‘‘I am third generation and I have my son on the farm now who is fourth... despite the challenges it is all going well and we’re looking forward to a good career with SPC.’’
The centenary was marked with six fruit trees that will live at the Shepparton site to represent the stakeholders who played a significant role during the past 100 years.
Individual plaques accompanied each tree, symbolising the staff, Goulburn Valley growers, Shepparton community, government, consumers and retail partners who were involved since the introduction of the very first orchards.
Among the celebrations, SPC recognised the $100million investment from parent company Coca-Cola Amatil and the Victorian Government, with additional capital to be used this year to upgrade the Shepparton facility and new processing capabilities.
State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp recognised the role SPC played in regional Victoria as the largest producer of packaged fruit and vegetables in Australia.
‘‘In addition to preserving some of the best, clean, green and safe produce, SPC continues to develop award-winning innovative products and successfully exports them to the world,’’ he said.
SPC processes more than 100000 tonnes of peaches, pears, plums, apples, apricots and tomatoes each season.
Mr Weine said SPC had Goulburn Valley growers to thank for this, praising their horticultural knowledge and experience.
‘‘We have always believed that knowing where your food is grown is important to consumers and we have some of the best growing conditions in the world right here in the Goulburn Valley,’’ he said.