News Article

Meet the Finalists - Flavorite

   Monday 2nd November, 2020

Last year’s winner of the Gippsland Agribusiness of the Year is back on the finalists list again in 2020, this year in the Excellence in Sustainability category, supported by Bass Coast Shire Council.

Located in Warragul, Flavorite have implemented a range of sustainable practices that put them at the leading edge of glass house farming, not only in Gippsland and Australia, but globally.

The Millis and Nichols families have built and developed the operations from decades of experience and through international study travel to collaborate with growers and specialists around the world.

Their impressive 420,000 square metres of glasshouse technology enables them to control the growing environment of all their crops, focusing on water conservation and controlling the temperatures, irrigation, pest management and
growing cycles.

From their humble beginnings with 3000 square metres of plastic igloo greenhouses to grow tomatoes in the late 1980’s, fast forward to 2020 where production has expanded to include new ranges of capsicum, cucumbers and blueberries, with the blueberries being the only crop that is not grown in the glasshouses.

In the past 12 months Flavorite have consolidated their three businesses into one and have their next stage of growth mapped out. This includes building a new glasshouse that will cover around 4 hectares for their cucumber production.

This new addition will take them to maximum capacity for land use on their Gippsland property, located on the farming fringe of Warragul, just over 100 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD.
Glasshouse horticulture production yields 60% more crop over traditional field farming by providing a protected and controlled environment for plants.

Flavorite use significantly less chemicals through a very controlled Integrated Pest Management system where crops
are scanned by staff, pests are monitored and counted, and beneficial bugs introduced in appropriate numbers.

They also use mass trapping for flying insects and have a thorough cleaning process in place for weed removal.
Their approach to water conservation is impressive, with almost 90% of water used on the farm collected from building run off and stored in dams. They have also installed UV technology to sterilise run off water and fertilisers that would otherwise have been lost during the irrigation process.

Glasshouse tomatoes only require 20% of the water used for field tomatoes. Water usage is computer controlled ensuring each plant receives the exact amount of water to the millilitre!

The combination of a number of things create a consistently stable growth environment including;

  • the use of diffused glass increases light transmission by scattering the light that enters the glasshouse, increasing photosynthetic activity, resulting in greater production.

  • the glasshouses are heated using natural gas, which creates a Co2 by-product that is captured and pumped back into the glasshouse to enhance plant and fruit growth.

  • Rockwool, made from molten rock spun into cotton candy like fibres and then compressed into cubes, provides an optimal growth medium, with greater stability for the plants ‘roots.

The use of glasshouses means Flavorite essentially use the same land space year on year and don’t have to rest land.

Flavorite are also undertaking several significant sustainability projects including replacing plastic packaging with cardboard. They are working with major retailers and leading the way with them to convert as much packaging over to cardboard.

Cost is an issue but Flavorite are working with their customers to find a viable solution.

90% of waste from the farm is plant matter, but this is currently contaminated with string and plastic clips used during the growing phase of the plants.

They are looking at trials to remove the string and plastic with biodegradable materials enabling them to use the waste and convert to fertiliser.

One of Australia’s largest glasshouse producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, this business has a rich history that began with tomatoes and has grown to so much more, produced across a footprint the size of 58 football fields.

Complimenting their passion for producing a quality product, is their constant look ahead of ways to reduce the impact on the environment and continue to increase the shelf life of all the produce they grow and sell – which ultimately helps contribute to the fight against food waste.