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Seeka’s avocado policy pays off

Seeka’s avocado policy pays off for its growers with improved returns

Te Puke, 26 May, 2016 -- Seeka Kiwifruit Industries’ commitment to its avocado growers has paid off with average export returns of $26.86 per export tray for the 2015-16 season, well up on last season’s $16.64 per export tray.

“Our growers have done a great job in producing really good quality fruit,” said Simon Wells, Seeka General Manager Grower Services.

“And because Seeka is fully integrated, we are able to control our supply chain and manage the quality of the fruit all the way through from orchard to market.”

NZX-listed Seeka, a leading post-harvest company, and New Zealand and Australia’s biggest kiwifruit grower, has for several years been diversifying its fresh produce base. The company is a significant avocado grower, with managed and leased avocado orchards, and major packhouses in the Bay of Plenty and Kerikeri. In the 2015-16 season, Seeka packed and exported around 225,000 trays, as well as supplying 84,000 trays to the domestic market.

Mr Wells said that 2015-16 had been an excellent year for the avocado industry and emphasised the need for the industry to continue to collaborate closely in its export marketing in the coming season when the harvest is expected to be significantly larger.

Earlier this year Seeka promoted the company’s avocado specialist Dr Jonathan Dixon to the role of Chief Technical Officer, with Lynnaire Avers taking over as Avocado Category Manager, and Ben Tuck recruited as Avocado Customer Relationship Manager.

“We have boosted our avocado grower services team and picked up more orchards. And the strength of our team contributes to a quality crop, which we are able to effectively manage with our growers.”

Brand and Marketing Manager Annmarie Lee said its growers had supported Seeka’s approach, where harvesting is directly tied to identified markets so that picking volumes are managed to match those sales. The approach ensures that some fruit is held on the trees to be available for the post-Christmas period when prices are highest.

“Our growers have worked very closely with us to ensure our retail programme has been successful,” she said.

A key reason for the company’s avocado success has been the established strength of the Seeka brand in Australia, the most important export market for avocados. Last year, Seeka purchased major fresh fruit producer Bunbartha Fruit Packers Pty, which has further strengthened its relationship with key Australian retailers.

“The demand for avocados in Australia is continuing to grow hugely,” she said. “However, we will also be shipping into Japan in the coming season, when we are expecting much more fruit to be available.

ENDS

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