LJM Victoria acquires OZ Connect Traders

One of Australia’s largest pure play co-packers LJM Victoria has acquired Victoria-based OZ Connect Traders (OCT), a primary food packer that transports over 10 million raw food packaged products annually for Australia’s largest food retailers and global food exporters.

The move closely follows LJM’s joint ventures with Multipack in Sydney and New Zealand’s brand activation specialist Hoop Ltd to dramatically expand its co-packing footprint in Australia and New Zealand.

LJM, employing over 500 people across seven sites in New South Wales and Victoria, moves approximately 60 million packaged products across 1000 SKU annually for national and global FMCG, food, beverages, spirits and pharmaceuticals companies.

OCT will be relocating its Carrum Downs operation to LJM’s Melbourne facility located at Dandenong South. All OCT staff will be retained and OCT’s managing director Neil Page will remain with LJM to head up the new division, while director Terry Blyton will provide consulting services.

LJM director and founder Lance Miles said the company decided to acquire OZ Connect Traders as the Australian co-packing space is rapidly expanding.

“The acquisition of OCT places us in a prime position to capitalise on market growth to become Australia’s premium primary and secondary co-packer. We are scaling up in a new area – blending, filling and packing raw foods,” Miles said.

“The ability to pack raw foods in a climate controlled, refrigerated and frozen product/conditions combined with a highly automated secondary co-pack plant, offers the market a unique opportunity. Becoming an all-encompassing supplier enables clients to reduce reliance on imported product and minimise their supply chain.

“OCT has specialised automated equipment and in-depth knowledge of the primary food packaging sector that complements our current business, supported by a client centric approach.

“LJM’s size and scale as well as key food accreditations will open up new opportunities for both businesses. New services will be rolled out to the clientele of both companies to offer a holistic approach to co-packing.”

OCT director Terry Blyton said the combined synergies of both businesses will exponentially increase both LJM and OCT’s abilities to cater to the needs of current clients and significantly assist future expansion.

“OCT has a broad customer base that delivers products to all sectors of the retail chain in Australia and overseas. LJM brings a wealth of industry knowledge, bio security systems, an expanded range of accreditations as well as a broader customer base,” Blyton said.

“Customers are demanding more variety and ‘better for you’ products. Triggered by social media, the share of this market is growing rapidly. Co-packers offer the ability to roll out multiple new product launches on a small scale to see which ones work and can then quickly scale successful launches to full national roll outs.

“Market conditions change quickly and products must be market-ready faster. Full- service contract packing houses such as the new partnership with LJM can meet these demands with the expertise, equipment and packing solutions available.

“We are already witnessing food supply chains diversifying. They are looking to become more home grown orientated. Pre COVID 19, companies relied on some imported ingredients and packaging from overseas countries. Delays in packaging was one of the reasons why there were shortages of product on retail shelves. To ensure continual supply, the shift is towards local products and packaging.”

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