SPREYTON Fresh’s North-West Coast orchards are starting to bear fruit on the world’s biggest markets.
The family-run orchard has grown from being a local supplier of homes, shops and schools around the small North-West town to dealing with customers around the globe.
Their cherry orchards sit just over the hill, the sea of nets covering their 100ha of orchards which supply local and international markets, as well as finding their way into the ciders and juices.
Spreyton Fresh began orchard production four generations ago, starting back in 1908 with their first apple orchards in the Mersey Valley.
Spreyton would go on to produce apples for juicing across the state but, following a downturn in juice apple prices in 1997, the decision was made to begin juice production for themselves, providing an alternative marketing avenue for the business.
Since then, Spreyton have established their product in supermarkets across Australia, the juice brand blazing a trail for their venture into their alcoholic range, Spreyton Cider, which started in 2012 and has been going from strength to strength.
The company made the decision to keep the entire cider production process in-house, with crops going from vine-to-bottle within the facility, starting with the construction of their cider making and bottling facility-cum-cellar door.
Michelle Distill is (at least) the fourth generation of her family to tend the Spreyton orchards, and currently sits as a director at Spreyton Fresh.
She says the way Spreyton Fresh hasn’t hidden the process of the harvest within the small town has helped their brand grow.
“The biggest distinction that we have is our process: we grow our fruit, we pick it, we turn it into juice, into cider and into vinegar on site, straight from the orchards, right in front of our customers.
“It gives the tourist and visitors a perspective on our product and a bit of an idea on the history of the valley here, which is very apple-heavy.”
“It’s all been about value-adding our products since we started. If you aren’t value-adding in agriculture, it becomes more and more difficult to grow, to keep things ticking over.
“Now we’ve now got a definite order headed for Japan, and there’s interest coming in from Hong Kong and Vietnam, and we’re beginning to look at how we expand our product line on to the mainland from next year onwards.
“They found our products online and made contact with us, it’s an exciting prospect.”
Ms Distill said the speed in which the cider venture of the company found its feet was hugely supported by the experienced staff behind the operation.
“We’ve been extremely lucky with our staff that came in early on. Our sales rep had extensive experience working in the alcohol industry when he came to us and with Damien, our cider maker, we started to build quite quickly,” Ms Distill said.
Damien Viney, who is chief cider maker at Spreyton Fresh said a lot of the unique flavours that come into their juices and ciders were down to the local producers who grow for Spreyton Fresh.
“The majority of the apples that go in the cider are grown by us, but for the juice apples, we look to the growers within the region,” he said.
“Our Sour Cherry ingredients come from their own cherries across the road, raspberries come from Costas and from Richard Clark down at Westerway Farms. It’s all Tassie-based, which is great for everyone involved.”
In their first year, Spreyton cider produced 30,000 litres, a number which grew to 150,000 by the end of 2021.
They’re anticipating an output of 200,000-220,000 litres this year.
Mr Viney said as the juice and cider remains popular and continually growing within Tasmania, it’s the international interest in the more unique fruit blends that are really causing a buzz.
“The majority of our sales of our ciders still remain within Tassie, but right now we’re getting the first consignment of sour cherry cider ready that’s headed to Japan in the next couple of months, which feels really good.
“They’re particularly interested in some of the more boutique drinks we’re making here, not so much the most popular sellers here, so that’s great for us.
“It gets the Tasmanian name out there.”