Vineland Growers Co-operative

Vineland Growers Co-operative

November 15, 2016 08:00 ET

Niagara region tender fruit-growers co-op showcases large expansion at its Virgil facility

VIRGIL, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 15, 2016) - Vineland Growers Co-operative reveals its newly expanded warehouse and storage distribution centre in Virgil last week to its farmer-owners and supporters that came out to celebrate the century-old co-operative's latest milestone.

The new 30,000 square foot expansion boasts 12 new shipping bays, 15,600 square feet of new cold storage space all fully equipped with an advanced racking-system that allows product to flow in and out of the facility in an efficient first-in, first-out manner.

"On any given day, this site will see 40,000 boxes of fruit flow through this facility," says Mike Ecker the co-operative's general manager. Vineland Growers Co-op is delivering large quantities of quality product coast-to-coast to top prominent grocers, supplying both organic and traditionally-farmed product to fulfill the needs of today's consumer demand.

Of the eight cold storage compartments, four have a state-of-the-art feature called Controlled Atmosphere (CA) technology from Holland. "The CA component actually controls the temperature and the amount of oxygen in the space; reducing oxygen levels to as low as one per cent for maximum efficiency and quality, says Dave Lepp Vineland Growers operations manager.

The co-operative has been a long standing supplier of fresh local produce in the Niagara region by working closely with its local farmer-members for more than 100 years. And now, this expansion, Vineland Growers has grown its business internationally by receiving product from various countries around the world allowing the co-op to be operational 12 months a year.

Jim Collard, Niagara on the Lake city councillor came out to take part in the day and commented on the strength of the co-operative's ability to be a full service co-op to its members covering every aspect "from tree to store."

George Lepp, a director of the co-op, congratulated the Vineland staff, the building crew and contractors on their commitment to not only building a superb facility, but keeping business operations running as usual while under construction. "Our team not only managed a smooth transition during this time, but at the end of the day we also managed to come in under budget," says Lepp. "In this day and age, that is unheard of!"

Phil Tregunno, Vineland Growers Co-operative chairman of the board spoke about the strength in farm-families working together. "We have our four founding families to thank for their vision to form a fruit-growers producer co-op in 1913, but the same vision and determination is true today. The entrepreneurial spirit and a unwavering belief in that anything is possible by working together through our co-operative model has served us well and will continue to do so."

Vineland Growers Co-operative Ltd. was established in 1913, and was founded by four forward-thinking farmers who realized there were benefits to working together. Now the company represents over 300 members in tender fruit and grape production, most of which hail from the Niagara region. Today, Vineland Co-operative has 29 full time employees but grows to an employee base of three times that amount in the peak growing season.

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