Milestone moment for proud family celebrating 100 years

The saying from little things, big things grow couldn’t be more fitting for this fifth-generation family business as it celebrates 100 years.

The story of Moffatt Fresh Produce began in 1924, when farmers Robert Moffatt and his son Allan (Scott) Moffatt moved to Tarome, in south-east Queensland.

Today, the business has grown into one of Australia’s largest carrot producers, with its own dedicated refrigerated transport fleet. Its newest truck, an impressive Kenworth T610SAR, pays homage to the company’s proud family heritage.

The image that inspired the new truck’s artwork. Image: Moffatt Fresh Produce.

A mural of Scott adorns both sides of the truck, while custom exhaust shrouds and a number plate that reads 100YRS are telling signs that this truck is an ode to something pretty special.

“The image of my grandfather is him overlooking one of our fields. The mountains in the background is the Great Diving Range, which is the backdrop to our property here,” explained Steve Moffatt, a fourth generation family member and the company’s managing director.

“We’re at the foothills of Cunningham’s Gap and have one of the greatest backdrops in the world, as many truckies coming through the Gap will tell you.

“This truck is a perfect tribute to a man who meant so much to us. We’re forever grateful for the legacy he’s left for us and the generations to come.

“We’ve now got the fifth generation of family members coming through the business.”

Moffatt Fresh Produce is a family business through and through. Steve, with his wife Jenny by his side, along with his partners John and Mitchell Moffatt took the reins of Moffatt Fresh Produce from their fathers Donald and Greg.

[L-R]: Mitchell, John and Steve Moffatt continue to steer the business into the future. Image: Moffatt Fresh Produce

Moffatt Fresh Produce grows anywhere from 28,000-32,000 tonnes of carrots each year, depending on the season, and supplies the country’s east coast as well as exporting to northern Asia and the Middle East.

“Originally from Scotland, my grandfather and great grandfather moved here from Charleville and prior to that had lived in Dubbo. I’m sure they picked this area because of its rich fertile soils and its proximity to the markets of their time,” said Steve.

“We’re strategically placed to all our customers and only about one and a half hours from the port, to satisfy our international business needs.

“I never personally knew my great grandfather but I had a great relationship with my grandfather Scotty.”

In the early days, the Moffatt family started out in dairy farming, beef cattle and growing small crops such as potatoes. “Then we started growing carrots in the mid ‘70s and have been doing so ever since,” added Steve.

“When my grandfather and great grandfather started out, there were 30-40 producers in the area supplying mainly to the central markets. But we’ve seen consolidation in the industry. There were some people who saw there were easier jobs than farming and got out of it.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’re still here and we’ve been here for 100 years. We’re proud of the legacy we’ve left behind and we’ll continue to grow our business into the future.”

Donald Moffatt. Image: Moffatt Fresh Produce

Though carrots are now the company’s mainstay – which it grows, packs and transports all year round – onions are another core product. “But that’s seasonal,” said Steve, “so we only grow onions for a few months of the year; usually from around November through to the end of January.”

The land that the company farms from extends 250 kilometres from north to south and 120 kilometres from east to west. Moffatt Fresh Produce transports its goods from farm to factory to the customer throughout Queensland. And enlists the help of third party transport operators to deliver into Melbourne and Sydney.

The turnaround time for carrots to go from harvest to retailer is just 24 hours.

For Moffatt Fresh Produce, the transport operation has been a pivotal part of the company’s success since the early 1970s. “Transport is in our blood. As our business grew, we saw the need to be able to control and have flexibility in our transport operations, to move with the needs of harvesting and seasonal conditions,” Steve said.

Including the newest addition, the fleet consists of eight prime movers – predominantly Kenworths. Its refrigerated trailers are produced by FTE and the tippers by Moore Trailers. There are six sets of B-double tippers and four sets of 32-pallet refrigerated B-doubles.

Sitting behind the new T610SAR however, the latest trailer delivery shies away from the company’s usual specifications.

Operating under Performance Based Standards (PBS), it will tow a single trailer without sacrificing too much capacity over the company’s existing B-doubles.

Greg Moffatt. Image: Moffatt Fresh Produce

As Steve explained, “To date, we’ve been running 32 pallet refrigerated B-double combinations but because of the nature of our short haul work and the advances in the PBS scheme, we’re able to run a 28 pallet quad axle single van.

“So we’ve gone from two trailers to one without much difference in payload. For the driver, it means they’re not having to hook and unhook multiple times a day, which can prove frustrating.”

Steve worked closely with sales representative Michael Oliver, at Brown and Hurley Darra, to ensure the new truck would fit within PBS requirements. “Brown and Hurley did a fantastic job in helping to set this truck up for us,” Steve said.

Artist Matthew Lin helped to create the artwork for the mural, while Bel Air Truck Spraypainting did the airbrushing.

“The picture of my grandfather is actually from a photo of him. It was quite satisfying to see the finished product,” said Steve.

The truck’s ode to 100 years in business can be seen from any angle. Image: Brown and Hurley

“When I picked up the truck, I had a lump in my throat because I was so proud of it. We are usually a pretty conservative lot, but this time we thought it was fitting to put that image on the side of the new truck.

“In our work, it’s all about resilience. We’re not immune to drought, flood, bushfire, storms, all those things that farmers contend with, but we are a resilient lot.

“This is a huge milestone for the business, and more so for the Moffatt family. It’s a tribute to the hard work of my father and his father and his father before that, for providing this terrific legacy that we can carry on.”

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