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Woolworths starts build on $135 million fresh food distribution centre

Woolworths is hoping the proximity will radically reduce the number of trucks the retailer has on the road, estimating a reduction in 600 trucks across the West Gate Bridge each week.

The company’s current fresh food distribution site is located in Mulgrave in Melbourne’s south-east side.

This is the ideal location for us to serve both our stores and our suppliers.

Chief supply chain officer Paul Graham.

Co-location with Hilton Meats will also pull an additional 3000 trucks a year off the road, and chief supply chain officer Paul Graham told The Age and Herald the Truganina site was a “strategic location” for suppliers as well.

“We have a lot of our suppliers on the western side, so this will shorten the distance for them, and the co-location with Hilton Meats will allow us to deliver meat and produce in the same vehicle,” he said.

“This is the ideal location for us to serve both our stores and our suppliers.”

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The distribution behemoth will contain two separate temperature-controlled zones along with a “banana ripening” room, with Mr Graham describing it as a “flow-through site”.

“We receive the produce, we sort it out, and we send it on in the quickest time frame possible,” he said.

Mr Graham also said the new centre, slated to be completed at the end of 2020, would allow the company to expand its range to cater to different customer demands, including fresh produce options for cultural and ethnic groups Woolworths had not provided previously.

Australia’s big supermarket players Woolworths and Coles have been pouring capital into automated warehouses, with Coles striking a deal earlier this year with UK supermarket chain Ocado to run its robot-powered sites.

Last year Woolworths finished building its massive 15-hectare automated centre in Dandenong, which cost the retailer $560 million, however Mr Graham said this new site would contain “very limited” automation.

Sarah Connolly state member for Tarneit, Mia Shaw Wyndham City mayor, Melissa Horne Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight and Paul Graham Woolworths chief supply chain officer at the company's $135 million Truganina site.

Sarah Connolly state member for Tarneit, Mia Shaw Wyndham City mayor, Melissa Horne Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight and Paul Graham Woolworths chief supply chain officer at the company’s $135 million Truganina site.

The built area for the new Truganina site will one and a half times the size of the MCG, and Woolworths plans for the centre to achieve a five-star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

A solar panel system will be installed on the roof, and the site will include charge points for electric trucks.

“Woolworths’ decision to develop its new Melbourne Fresh Distribution centre at Truganina is a big win for locals in the western suburbs and a huge tick for our planners, who have been working with industry and local communities to take more trucks off local streets in the west,” state minister for ports and freight Melissa Horne said.

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