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Health and aged-care service alliance

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PREPARED Foods Australia (PFA) and Bidvest Australia Limited have formed a trading alliance to launch and nationally distribute PFA's Health Cuisine and Clever Cuisine total prepared food solutions.

The deal will see core products of PFA's Health Cuisine and Clever Cuisine range stocked and distributed through Bidvest's 30 foodservice warehouses around Australia.

PFA's CEO Shane Bracken said the deal stole the march on the food manufacturing sector which to date had struggled to establish cost effective national logistics and distribution networks for its products to health and aged care facilities.

"This exciting opportunity will set us apart from our competitors. Never before has a prepared food solution such as Health Cuisine been nationally distributed," Mr Bracken said.

"We believe that the market is ready for an innovative approach, particularly for Government funded health care providers with cost pressures forcing them to review their current operational procedures.

"Health Cuisine will also provide an attractive alternative for service providers who are seeking a solution that will reduce their food and labour costs whilst maintaining quality."

Mr Bracken said PFA had allocated $1 million to upgrade its manufacturing facility and restructured its national sales team to support the Bidvest deal.

"We'll be providing information sessions, training and selling tools for Bidvest's sales representatives and tele-sales personnel to ensure they fully understand our products and appreciate the unique opportunity we are jointly embarking on."

Bidvest Australia managing director Ken Bielby said the trading alliance meant the company would continue to offer the most comprehensive range of products and services to the Australian foodservice market.

"This announcement is part of our strategy to create value by focusing on supplying the right product to the customer, at the right price, on time. Our product range is continually being adjusted to keep pace with the changing market place, and has been developed to meet the needs of our customers." Mr Bielby said.

"Our 30 foodservice warehouses and distribution capabilities nationally allow Bidvest Australia to provide a fully comprehensive range of products and services on a national level at economies of scale beyond our competitors.

"We are fairly unique in having developed a single network and IT system with a central mainframe, servicing all business units around Australia. We also offer online administration and ordering from each Bidvest Distribution Centre via the Findfoodfast facility on our website.”

Mr Bielby said Bidvest Distribution Centres would support the partnering arrangement by stocking 90 Health Cuisine and 30 Clever Cuisine core products as well as providing ongoing training and support of their sales representatives and tele-sales personnel.

"We believe this partnership will put both PFA and Bidvest in a unique position to achieve significant sales growth and market dominance in the health and aged care foodservice sector."

PFA is a member of the Austral Food Group, a privately owned Australian company with interests across the food services industry. PFA is a leading provider of health and aged-care prepared food solutions and is a significant contract packer and food manufacturing facility for foodservice, retail and manufacturing domestically and internationally.

It currently supplies prepared meal systems to around 60 healthcare and aged care facilities located in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and ACT.

Bidvest Australia Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bidvest Group, whose head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa. Bidvest Australasia's Corporate Office is located in Sydney and has 30 business units across Australia and 13 business units across New Zealand.

The company has an annual turnover exceeding $1 billion and employs approximately 2000 people.

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