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Hawke’s Bay economy gets major boost from fruit innovation

Hawke’s Bay economy gets major boost from fruit innovation

Havelock North Fruit Company has announced new investment and a major facility expansion and to meet global demand for its award winning Rockit apple brand.

Havelock North Fruit Company (HNFC) managing director Phil Alison today announced a new major facility in Havelock North, set to open in March 2015 as well as further investment into growing and globally supplying the miniature apple.

Already over $14 million has been invested in the production and marketing of Rockit, with a further $10m projected in the next three years.

Mr Alison says the new facility in Cooper Street Havelock North will be at the leading edge of food innovation and a showcase for Rockit.

It will employ 20 fulltime staff and up to 90 seasonal staff. A recruitment process will be announced in early January with open days planned for late January.

The facility will includes a 2500 m2 packhouse, coolstore, computerized grading equipment and administration offices.

Environmental considerations include low volume waste management, a state of the art filteration system and smart sensor LED lighting. It has future capacity of up to one million cartons.

HNFC reports revenue growth in excess of 700 per cent year on year, which is “a
win for Hawke’s Bay” as the company expands and creates new jobs.

“We have had exponential growth and this is projected to continue for the next five years.

“At current trends Rockit has the potential to become one of the largest value creators in the New Zealand’s horticultural sector.

Rockit is exported to the US, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the UK and sold domestically. HNFC also has marketing and grower licensee agreements in many world territories, with more planned in 2015.

79 hectares of Rockit are under cultivation with a further 55ha planned.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule welcomed the positive economic news saying that it’s great to see local business announce expansion plans and creating new employment opportunities.

“Rockit is proving that you can create an added value product from the land and generate world-wide demand.

“This is an excellent example of a innovation leader and it will be exciting to see the ongoing growth of this business.

Mr Alison said a priority of the business is to create career opportunities within the horticulture food sector for locals.

He says Rockit has a major strategic plan centering around its investments and creating value for NZ.

Accordingly a number of innovative solutions will be incorporated into its ongoing Hawkes Bay investments.

“We are all HB and are about HB.”

“We want to develop a unique culture based around our innovative approach and part of this is rejuvenating career opportunities locally in the food sector.

Tukituki MP Hon. Craig Foss, the Minister of Small Business, said “it is fantastic to see Rockit and Hawke's Bay harvesting the benefits of our trade agreements such as Taiwan.”

In the first nine months of the agreement New Zealand exports increased by 20 percent and in the last month the government announced the conclusion of Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the Republic of Korea.

"This is exactly the opportunity available to other exporters".

"The hardwork, innovation, risk taking and perseverance by Phil [Alison] and the Rockit team should be celebrated," Mr Foss said.


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