Charlie's squeezes first juice from Australian plant

By Errol Kiong

The first containers of pure orange juice have come out of beverage maker Charlie's Australian factory.

The plant in Renmark, South Australia, bought for A$2 million ($2.3 million) last October, will specialise in its Honest Not From Concentrate juices, smoothies and quenchers.

Its Henderson site, meanwhile, will focus solely on its glass range of products from the Phoenix Organics and Soda Co stable.

Chief executive Stefan Lepionka said the new plant, situated in the middle of a 130ha orange, lemon and lime orchard in Australia's key citrus growing location, gave the company a headstart in the "commodity drag race" that was the concentrates market.

"To enter and compete in the Not From Concentrate market you need to have a controlled supply of fruit and be able to produce the juice at source. New Zealand does not have the citrus capacity to meet volume needs, which is why many of our competitors produce their juices using concentrate sourced from around the world."

The company has exclusive rights to the orchard's output, which is expected to average around 4000 tonnes of fruit per season - dwarfing total New Zealand production of 700 tonnes.

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