NEW ZEALAND: “Best avocado season ever for Seeka”

by Nichola Watson, Fresh Plaza


Last year New Zealand company Seeka Industries took over Australian Bunbartha Fruit Packers and according to CEO Michael Franks, all is proceeding to plan. “All our business systems have been initiated and financial and selling systems are under way. We have development plans being carried out in the orchards and our safety systems are implemented within the operating business.  A new packing machine has been installed at Bunbartha along with new coolstores. In New Zealand significant investment of NZD$16m has been made into additional coolstores.”


“The Nashi pear harvest has been completed successfully and the kiwi harvest is just getting under way with the first green fruit close to maturity in Australia and the first gold fruit harvested in New Zealand. Rain was hampering the New Zealand harvest last week but apart from that the kiwi crop looks excellent and volumes are well up on last year on gold, while Hayward volumes are not as high as last year but the crop is still looking very good.


“Growing conditions have been very good this season and we expect to harvest 20-21 million Hayward, conventional and organic and 8 million trays of Gold 3,” explains Franks. “Demand for kiwis in general is good both for the kiwis sold through Zespri and for those sold by Seeka in Australia, the organic market is a niche market but has a good demand.”


The New Zealand avocado season ended in February and Franks said it was the best avocado season ever for Seeka, “The returns to growers were stunning at around $28 AUD per tray for export quality and $20 from the local market in New Zealand. If you consider that $26.50 AUD was the last previous high, and it was not so long ago that the returns were only $10-$16 dollars, it is good business. The growers have also produced very good quality fruit and the market conditions have been excellent.”


In New Zealand it is mostly Hass which is grown but Seeka is looking forward to starting a new planting program for the new green Gem variety next year.


The company is also looking forward to moving to new premises later in the year, having bought the former Kiwi 360 site earlier in the year. Franks said this is an iconic site in the heart of New Zealand’s kiwi growing region.


Future of Seeka
“We are currently focussed on the operational side of the business, this includes the kiwifruit harvest in New Zealand as well in Australia. That will dominate us for the first six months of the year, we want to put a good kiwi season behind us. Then reconsider our plan and see what opportunities exist for us for the next six months,” concludes Franks.


Source: Fresh Plaza

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