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Export Award For Fruit & Veg Marketer

23 April 2002

Export Award For $50 Million Fruit & Veg Marketer Delica (NZ) Ltd

Delica (NZ) Ltd, a fruit and vegetable marketing business that earned $50 million in foreign exchange in 2001 - projected to increase this to $70 million this year - has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award.

Media are invited to attend the presentation of the Delica (NZ) Ltd Trade New Zealand Export Award by the Minister of Trade Negotiations, the Hon. Jim Sutton, on Tuesday, 23 April, 10.30am, Unit 6, 9 Brigade Road, Airport Oakes, Mangere. The Trade NZ Export Awards are sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express.

Delica was established by old university friends Anton Masutti and Murray McCallum five years ago and were soon joined by third director Sarah McCormack. Mr Masutti says while their original intention was to keep the company small, it has grown “beyond their wildest dreams”.

Today Delica markets and distributes more than 35 fruit and vegetable products around the world, ranging from onions and asparagus to strawberries and kiwifruit. Mr Masutti says the company has established strong brands in overseas markets, including Japan, North America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

Mr Masutti says Delica looks for markets where it can become the dominant supplier of a fruit and vegetable product, and where a competitor is not offering optimum quality. The company uses Trade New Zealand’s overseas offices to help with research and market entry.

In order to supply customers year round, Delica sources produce from growers in Australia and the USA as well as from all over New Zealand.

Trade New Zealand General Manager Client Services Tim Harris congratulated Delica on its Export Award, saying a strength of the company was building long term business relationships with growers and clients based on trust.

“Many companies profess to be doing it but Delica really is. The company’s values of honesty, integrity and genuine passion for maximising grower returns, along with fundamentals like prompt reliable payment and not passing the buck back to growers when problems arise in-market, is building strong loyalty from the best growers.”

Anton Masutti and Murray McCallum remain the majority shareholders in Delica. Mr Masutti is Managing Director and is based in Auckland, while Mr McCallum oversees its Australian operation out of Melbourne. Sarah McCormack is also a shareholder in Delica. Mr Masutti says her in-depth knowledge of Japanese culture and language has been vital in building Japan into Delica’s biggest export market.

Despite the phenomenal growth of the business, Mr Masutti says dealing with perishables and maintaining consistently good quality is an ongoing challenge.

He says Delica has entered into a number of joint ventures to give it greater control over the supply and quality of the produce it markets. It owns at least 50% of its packhouse operations and has a new joint venture to give it access to Chinese product for export. It’s also established its own 80-acre organic orchard in Pukekawa, south of Auckland, although Masutti says Delica is careful not to grow products it can already source in sufficient quantity and quality.

Mr Masutti says finding effective and experienced traders is also a challenge, and to retain the best Delica pays good remuneration and runs an incentive system, including the opportunity for some staff to invest in the business.

Delica’s produce is sold to importers, wholesalers and direct to supermarkets in some markets.

The company has 15 staff in New Zealand, based in Auckland and the Hawke’s Bay. Mr Masutti says unlike its competitors, Delica also has multi-lingual agents on the ground in China, Australia and North America who are its eyes and ears in the market, checking quality and supporting customers.

He says Delica is constantly monitoring the global marketplace and exploring opportunities as they present themselves.

“China will be a major focus and we’re also working to develop our e-commerce capabilities.

“Central to our growth strategy is the diversification of our product range into areas such as meat and seafood. Significant investment has already been made in organic products through our orchard, and we see this area as the way of the future.”

Ends

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