Apple grower Rivercorp, led by Fergus McLachlan, the son of former federal defence minister Ian McLachlan, has tipped one of the country’s biggest undercover apple orchards, in South Australia’s Riverland region, on to the market.
The Loxton Apple Orchards is a 168-hectare property at Loxton, a fruit-growing region about 250 kilometres from Adelaide.
The property comprises around 135 hectares of established apple orchards, with more than 200,000 trees predominantly planted to Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Gala varieties with more than 100 hectares of netted orchard.
The price has not been disclosed but local insiders valued at the orchards under netting – which protect the fruit from the sun – at around $70,000 per hectare.
The orchards supply fresh apples to major supermarkets including Coles and Woolworths and juicing fruit to Lion Nathan, among others.
According to his Bloomberg profile, Fergus McLachlan, the chief executive of Rivercorp Land and Water, has been involved in the establishment of the family blue gum plantations, vineyards and wine business and is a director of its Nangwarry Pastoral Company.
The McLachlans are one of the most well connected families in Australia.
Fergus’ father, Ian McLachlan, who played cricket for South Australia, was Federal Minister for Defence from 1996 to 1998, served as president of the National Farmers Federation in the 1980s and, as long-time president of the South Australian Cricket Association, led the $535 million redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval.
Fergus McLachlan’s uncle Angus runs the merino sheep property Rosebank, near Mt Pleasant in Adelaide’s hills, while cousin Gillon McLachlan is CEO of the Australian Football League.
Selling agents Tim Altschwager and Jesse Manuel, from Colliers International, said Rivercorp was selling the orchard to focus on its other growing properties and its crushing and juicing operations at Monarto.
“The orchard produces high quality apples predominantly for the fresh fruit market, with lower quality apples used for juicing,” Mr Altschwager said.
“The orchard is strategically located to take advantage of the early season ripening in order to capitalise on potential high fruit fresh market prices.”
Interest is expected from existing fruit growers, which may include the country’s largest grower of fruit and vegetables, Costa Group.
The property is on 10 Certificates of Title and a Crown Lease. It includes substantial irrigation infrastructure along with improvements consisting of a residence, machinery and storage and shedding.
Keep up with Commercial Real Estate news.