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Eastpack Celebrates 30 Years of Packing Kiwifruit

Eastpack Celebrates 30 Years of Packing Kiwifruit

Leading kiwifruit post harvest supplier, EastPack has celebrated 30 seasons of packing kiwifruit. EastPack, which began in Edgecumbe and was originally called Rangitaiki Fruitpackers Co-operative, is now New Zealand’s largest post harvest kiwifruit operator, following its merger earlier this year with Satara.

Chief Executive Tony Hawken has led the company through 30 years of continuous growth.

“From day one, we have always had, and continue to have, a reputation for looking after our growers no matter how challenging the circumstances,” Mr Hawken said.

“As a grower-owned company, EastPack growers share in the company’s financial success. We consistently deliver industry-leading orchard gate returns (OGR) through our operational efficiencies, inventory management and our grower-owned structure.”

This season EastPack was the only packhouse to achieve more than $5 per tray Orchard Gate Return (OGR) - the highest return since 2003. In May, they announced a $7.5 million before tax profit (after paying 20 cents per tray rebate in June 2012), for the financial year ended 31 December 2012.

“We packed 21.7 million trays this season during what was a very concentrated packing period. Our combined capacity across our six sites enabled us to process approximately 20 percent of our total crop in one week – that’s 4.8 million trays,” Mr Hawken said.

“That is testament to our loyal growers, our Growing Excellence LEAN manufacturing principles, and our ongoing investment in technology and our staff.”

EastPack has saved 28 percent in costs in four years through its Growing Excellence process and plant improvements. “Those efficiencies have enabled us to give back to our growers and to invest in research and development to help combat Psa,” Mr Hawken said.

Time has certainly brought huge gains in productivity.

“Back in 1983, it took us six weeks to pack 65,000 trays of kiwifruit. Today, thanks to EastPack’s state of the art semi-automated fruit graders and sizers and robotic packing arms, it takes just two hours to pack that volume.”

EastPack has packhouse and coolstore operations in Edgecumbe, Opotiki, Te Puke, Katikati and Whangarei, and employs more than 2,000 people during the peak season.

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