Strait Brands gears up for multi-million-dollar expansion
Tasmanian spirits producer Strait Brands is commencing construction on a new $500,000 production facility capable of packaging 1.25 million bottles of vodka and gin over the next 12 months.
The distiller produced Australia's first premium vodka and gin in 2006 and will start site works for an interim facility at Badger Head Road, York Town.
A $3million second-stage development, planned for late 2019 and subject to development approval, will enable the business to package nearly six million bottles of spirits and spring water per annum, on one shift, five days a week.
Stage 2 will also include bag-in-box filling technology for spring water. Strait Brands, which currently has a range of 10 products, eight of which add value to Tasmanian-grown produce, is gearing up for national distribution and pending export agreements in the US, South East Asia, the UK, Germany and France, plus entry into the cruise ship market in the Pacific and Caribbean.
"This is Tasmanian spirits production on an industrial scale," said Strait Brands founder and managing director Philip Ridyard. "It is what we planned, prior to entering production in 2006, but a multiple combination of factors - not least the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-9 - meant we had to tread water until market conditions were more investment friendly.
"That was even though we were already exporting to China and Vietnam and had a strong marketing presence at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
"At the time, the Australian-produced spirits market was in its infancy and has only matured in the last three to five years with the massive increase in the number of whisky and gin producers.
"Large scale production for domestic and export markets has always been our focus and now is the time to press the button on that expansion after an immense amount of work on prospective markets, local procurement, supply agreements, distribution, and domestic and international partnerships," said Ridyard.
Strait Brands' interim facility will eventually become an expanded cold storage operation for its fruit procurement from northern Tasmanian orchards.
"The advent of poly tunnels and widespread irrigation projects has meant we can finally lay our hands on large quantities of second grade fruit; gorgeous fruit too small or too large for supermarkets, that previously had no market, or was just allowed to drop to the floor," added Ridyard
"The scope of this project and the benefits to fruit and nut growers is enormous, and the projected sales, through our overseas partners, are beyond even our own comprehension.
"We already have an order for 42,000 bottles of Strait Cameo Tasmanian Berry Gin, totally unseen or tasted, for distribution into the United States next year, and that is without factoring in sales in that market from our existing range," he said.
Strait Brands is expecting to create between 20-30 jobs within the next 12-18 months, in addition to underpinning job security for suppliers, freight, and service providers.