Fruit and vegetable traders are coming up with issues and 10 years of bad blood behind them as they settle into the new Melbourne Wholesale Fruit Vegetable and Flower Market.
The market opened on August 31 after its long-awaited relocation from the Melbourne Docks to the northern suburb of Epping. However, the opening date had to be postponed by close to a month as some traders struggled to get their store fit outs completed.
“There's still guys here today who haven't completed their fit out works, but they're still operating inside their premises in some form or fashion.”
The peak body representing vegetable growers across Australia, AUSVEG, said the relocation to Epping still presented some problems to growers because of transport concerns, but anecdotal feedback indicated growers were generally satisfied with the move.
"While there were some teething issues when the new Epping site first opened, vegetable growers are working with the Melbourne Market Authority to ensure tenants and buyers are able to conduct business as smoothly as possible," AUSVEG Victoria state manager Kurt Hermann said.
Mr Hermann, "No matter where the market is located, you cannot please every grower, given that fruit and vegetables are grown all across Victoria.”fruit and vegetable delivery
"That being said, the facilities at the Epping location are state-of-the-art and the overall responses to the new market we have received have been positive. However, the curfew that has been implemented on Lower Plenty Road and Rosanna Road has caused a great deal of inconvenience for growers based at the markets."
For some traders, the biggest challenge has been dealing with the uncertainty over the market's relocation for the past 10 years.
Grant Nichol, wholesale business manager of hydroponic tomato grower and wholesaler Flavorite, said there was an element of the unknown for traders with the relocation.
"You know how your business trades in the current environment, but to be put in a new market with new neighbours and everything like that ... there's no guarantees in business in any case, but it's really an educated guess as to what layout is going to work the best and flow the best as far as stock receivables and what have you."
While Flavorite, which has about 380 employees, was ready for the move, some smaller traders found it tough, Mr Nichol said.
"For a lot of the smaller business, it would have been a struggle, financially," he said.
"A lot of the infrastructure they have is all paid off, but all of a sudden, they are in a position where they are going to a new market where there's uncertainty of trade and what have you, and having to finance an extensive amount of money as far as fitting out of the store and things like upgrading IT.
"It's not the sort of thing people do every year – relocate their business and have to go through the negotiations with the builders, contracts and things like that. It can be pretty daunting."
Mr Nichol also said, "Epping works quite well as a location".