When cruising supermarket aisles and dazzled by the array of foods from which to choose, spare a thought for the people who go through hell and high water to ensure these products are there, day in, day out.
Deliveries to the docking bays behind the food retailing giants are where millions of dollars worth of food are unloaded every day. The four major supermarkets include Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash which services the Independent Grocers Association (IGA) and FoodWorks stores.
Since the demise of independently-owned specialised food stores – green grocers, butchers, bakers, dry-goods, milk-bars – now rare in country towns, supermarkets carry thousands of lines of products from matches, pet foods, sewing items, cheeses, lavatory paper and newspapers.
Managing the inventories, consolidation, distribution and logistics requires hundreds of thousands of truck movements each year so, if you think there are many trucks on the highways, you are correct.
Tony Madden bought a milk tanker in 1976 when in Goulburn, then a refrigerated truck to carry meat.
“In the late 1970’s there were privately owned abattoirs in Junee, Gundagai, Young, Harden, three in Cootamundra and two in West Wyalong. Tancreds Transport relocated to Harden in 1980 and everything expanded from there when I bought the company", Mr Madden explained.
“Today, we have 24 refrigerated semi-traliers, each capable of carrying 22 to 24 laden pallets and have contracts with Aldi, McCains, Oxley Cold Stores in Melbourne, True Foods in Bendigo and Manildra Meats, to name a few. Harden is centrally located for south, east west and north movements with some of our pick-ups from suppliers in the Riverina and south-west slopes regions”.
Technology plays a vital role in Tony Madden’s enterprise. Adding value and service to the transporting of perishable goods, his company also has capacious chill and frozen storage facilities; one at the Harden depot and the other at the former Harden abattoir which the company now owns.
“We hold product for Manildra Meat which they pack, label and scan before it is placed in our blast-chillers which can take a semi-load of meat from 4C to -18C in 36 hours, then maintain that indefinitely. This means Manildra Meats can get the best advantages when exporting as there is stock on hand at all times. Our monitoring system is fully integrated with Manildra Meats so there is 27/7 information”.
The former abattoir can hold 2,000 pallets of stock at -18C and is powered by a German designed and manufactured ammonium refrigeration compressor. Freon gas is used in the cool-rooms but “the ammonium system is far more effective and efficient at getting the temperatures very low, very quickly, plus, ammonium is absorbed into the atmosphere as opposed to freon which damages the ozone-layer”, Mr Madden said.
Madden’s also have been transporting cherries from orchards at Young to Mascot for air-freight export. “Last year, one orchard exported 130 pallets but, due to cold conditions in spring, the pollination was down so, only 30 pallets have gone”, Mr Madden said.
Having a yarn with Tony Madden is more informative than listening to a local news broadcast as he has eyes and ears everywhere due to his trucks and drivers constantly on the move. “Each truck travels at least 220,000 kms each year so we keep up to date with what’s going on in many locations”, he said.
“This year’s stone-fruit season is pretty good and the plums are outstanding so the orchardists are telling me”.
“With the freight export capacity from Canberra Airport now operational we see huge opportunities for growers and manufacturers around here. There is minimal traffic getting to the (freight) apron and we can actually undertake the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service checks at our depot so there are no delays between here and loading straight into the ‘planes. It’s exciting to think produce can be in Singapore by breakfast the next morning”.
“A cherry orchard near Wombat was recently purchased by a Chinese family and the produce is going straight to Beijing (via Sydney) so the international connections are getting stronger around Harden”, Mr Madden concluded.
If you live in the southern half of NSW, it is likely you have eaten food carried by Madden’s Refrigerated Transport as they service dozens of supermarkets,every day.