Factory grows with Pakenham

IT IS commonly agreed that Pakenham would not be the suburb it is today without the influence of the Raleigh/Nestle/Gippsland Food factory.
The Raleigh Preserve Company opened the Pakenham factory in 1951 after operating a factory in Brunswick during WWII.
In the early years, the factory produced canned peas, which were grown in Kooweerup, under the watchful eye of factory manager Bill Duke, who moved the Pakenham when the factory opened.
A vining shed was built at Pakenham to shell the peas, which were then shipped to Brunswick for canning.
In the early 1950s a factory was constructed and the production process was moved from Brunswick to Pakenham.
British company Crosse and Blackwell bought out both factories in the late 1950s, which then saw production of pickles and stuffed olives.
In 1960, Crosse and Blackwell was acquired by Nestle, leading to a new baby food factory being built and operational by 1962.
The factory was managed by Nestle staff until 1965 when the Brunswick factory was closed and Des McKenna transferred to Pakenham, along with a number of production lines.
The canning operation remained at Brunswick for a number of years.
Around the early 1980s, Nestles was also diversifying in frozen food and a frozen food factory was built in Pakenham.
It added the production of Lean Cuisine frozen meals in 1985.
This continued until the Gippsland Food Company was created in 2009 and the Pakenham site was purchased by Simplot Australia.
Today, the factory employs 230 staff and makes pasta, soups and sauces, and frozen and chilled meals.