This year has seen a lot of significant changes for Rockit apples: new private equity investors, new board members and a new CEO writes Nicola Watson for FreshPlaza
"It has been quite a watershed year for us," explains new CEO, Austin Mortimer. "It was time for changes within the company, the board and the founder of Rockit had different views as to the direction that the company should go in. It was determined that one side would buy out the other. The shareholder group raised the funds by introducing private equity to buy out the founder."
Rockit has always been promoted as an innovative snack product, and is not to be confused with a commodity apple.
"We want to define our position in the market place more clearly. We see other channels available to us other than mass retail or grocery. Small convenience stores, for example, and the "grab'n go" section of small retailers where the shelf space is more and more being given to healthy snacks. We see our two or three count tubes sitting nicely in that space alongside the hard boiled eggs and muesli bars. The tube supports the idea of it being ready to eat and of course, being an apple, it is healthy."
Austin says that most of the sales just now are made with 3,4 and 5 count tubes, but they are trialling a two piece for vending machines and a one piece for airline and hotel services. He believes the packaging on the small apple will assure people that the apple is clean and fresh.
"Rockit is currently grown in 9 countries and we are considering whether to plant in South Africa and Chile," said Austin. "You need to look at which markets you would serve with the production in there. Apples are mainly grown for export in those countries, Chile exports to the US and South Africa to Europe and since we already have production in both there is not a big need to grow in Chile or South Africa, although Africa is a fast growing market."
80% of Rockit apples grown are within the standard size, there are a number of diameters which cater to the majority of a standard Rockit tree.
"The taste profile is also important and while there are differences between different growing regions, these are not insurmountable," according to Austin. "Most of the Rockit apples are grown for their domestic markets so consumers get a stable taste profile. It is different in markets in Asia, where we need to have several sources to get a year round supply, we hope that with strict quality control we can keep the taste as stable as possible."
In Europe and North America the number of licences issued to grow Rockit apples are for a certain number of trees and the licensees are close to the limit of what they can plant. In New Zealand it is different, according to Austin, the new private equity investors are quite bullish about the opportunity and it is his intention to plant quite a bit more trees.
"It is significant for New Zealand that private equity have bought into it a traditional business, particularly one which is considered high risk in terms of horticulture. They see that we are building a global brand its not just about selling apples. They obviously see a lot of potential, it just goes to show that you can add value to what was a commodity."
"We have no reason to doubt the market for the Rockit apple, we have sold out every year. In 2017 we sold out 10 weeks earlier than ever before, with 40% increase in volume."
The Rockit apple is on the shelves in around 29 different countries, and the next target market is Japan where they hope to start sending apples in 2018.
Austin reckons that the reason the Rockit apple is popular on the Asian market is because it is very sweet and people are happy to eat a smaller apple.
"The feedback we have had from our research in Japan, where you get some very big apples, and demographics tell us there are a big percentage of people who live on their own and also a lot of older people. These people do not want a big apple which they can't finish and just end up leaving most of it. Also our experience from the countries which we are already selling in, is that because it is red and very sweet and crunchy, size doesn't matter, in fact they're more accepting of the smaller apples."
Quotas allowing imports of cheap New Zealand lamb and other goods will be shared out between Britain and the European Union after Brexit under a deal signed by both sides.
Restrictions on how many products can be imported into the EU on favourable rates are set across the bloc and concerns have been raised internationally that exporters could take a financial hit when the UK quits.
However, the British government has agreed with Brussels to divvy up the numbers of goods that can be brought in on low or zero tariffs based roughly on current rates.
It would mean products like lamb, which are imported into the UK in higher numbers than other parts of the bloc, would continue to be traded in similar numbers.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the deal showed "real progress" and was part of the government's plans to minimise disruption to global trade.
The agreement has been set out in a letter from the UK and the EU to the World Trade Organisation, which regulates international trading arrangements.
No decision has been made on how long the tariff rate quotas, which have to be renewed regularly with the WTO, would be maintained in the long-term.
Of the top five countries writes by Pam Tipa in RuralNews, New Zealand trades with, it only has trade deals with two, an ExportNZ conference has heard.
“That leaves us very vulnerable,” says trade expert Charles Finny. “We don’t have links to those markets that others do.”
National trade spokesman Todd McClay had earlier pushed the case for NZ to forge ahead in doing deals with like-minded countries.
Of our top five goods export countries -- China, Australia, US, EU and Japan -- we only have trade deals with China and Australia, he told the Auckland conference held on September 21.
McClay says when we do trade deals we get it right and trade flows increase significantly in both directions, as has been the case with China. He says that FTA got NZ through the global financial crisis (GFC).
“To continue to offer opportunities to NZ we need more trade deals.”
EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has expressed a desire to have a trade deal with NZ within two years; “that will take a lot of hard work”, McClay added. He expects this will take “three years rather than two”.
NZ is one of only six WTO countries that don’t have a trade deal with EU.
McClay says with the UK we are in a good space since Brexit was announced last year. UK trade secretary Liam Fox confirmed earlier this year that NZ will be first cab off the rank with Australia for new FTAs once they got through Brexit.
Meanwhile, McClay says TPP11 is a high-quality deal.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is amending its regulations to allow the importation of fresh persimmons from New Zealand into the United States. After analysing the potential plant pest risks, APHIS scientists determined that persimmons from New Zealand can be safely imported into the United States under a systems approach.
A systems approach is a series of measures taken by growers, packers, and shippers that, in combination, minimize pest risks prior to importation into the United States. In this case, the systems approach requires orchard certification, orchard pest control, post-harvest safeguards, fruit culling, traceback, and sampling.
In addition, the fruit must be treated with hot water or undergo modified atmosphere cold storage to kill any leafroller moth larvae. The persimmons must also be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate stating that they were produced under the systems approach and were inspected and found to be free of quarantine pests.
In August 2016, APHIS published a proposed rule to amend its regulations to allow the importation of fresh persimmons from New Zealand into the United States provided that they are produced in accordance with a systems approach. The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on October 3, 2017, and will become effective 30 days after publication on November 2, 2017.
ACL Airshop of the US and CORE Transport Technologies of New Zealand have announced an exclusive strategic alliance for bringing innovative new, field-proven Bluetooth® enabled logistics technology to the global air cargo industry, to jointly provide automated tracking of Unit Load Devices (ULD Equipment). ACL Airshop, with main offices in South Carolina and Amsterdam, is a worldwide provider of custom ULD solutions to over 200 air carriers and cargo clients, with services, repairs, and leasing operations at 40 of the world’s Top 50 air cargo hub airports, substantial manufacturing and supply chain capabilities for cargo control products, and 34 years of experience in air cargo. CORE Transport Technologies is an agile software developer, focused for over 10 years on services that provide significant improvement to the transportation process in multiple industries, with offices in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Orlando FL.
Predictive analytics and Big Data are just part of the new efficiencies these innovations can bring to air cargo carriers, according to the two companies. They assert that airlines will also be able to track the actual cargo loads by the container and pallet, that the tracking system will yield real-time “dot on the map” monitoring and status reports, and will reduce both the loss and/or the overstocking of pallets and other mission-essential cargo equipment. This is coupled as a significant technical enhancement to ACL’s already robust ULD Control and bar-coding systems used by some of its customers.
The two companies have successfully concluded extensive beta testing in the field with international air carriers and an array of multiple ULDs, with 100% tracking reliability. Similarly, a global air carrier conducted another CORE test which succeeded with hundreds of ULDs. Market readiness is now complete. Regulatory aspects such as compliance with FCC and FAA rules have been addressed, plus rigorous adherence to RTCA-DO-160 (“Environmental Conditions and Test Procedures for Airborne Equipment”).
Ian Craig, Managing Director & CEO of CORE Transport Technologies cited additional aspects of the logistics enhancements for clients, and explained the strategic alliance merits at a September air cargo conference. “While CORE has initiated a number of previous technology products independently, with the most current offering of COREInsight Tracking technology, we felt it is best suited for a partnership with a great industry leader like ACL Airshop.” Craig further stated, “By partnering with ACL, we introduce a new benefit to leasing ULD Equipment, whereby the lessee can now have an automated avenue to track their leased ULD even when it may be outside their own system. Core grants ACLAS the worldwide exclusive right to license, sublicense, and sell the ULD tracking technology, in tandem with us. ACLAS customers will always know where their ULD’s are located and when they are being utilized.”
Wes Tucker, Executive Vice President for ACL Airshop, said, “This partnership is not only about tracking ACL’s 40,000 ULDs, it’s also about partnering with a formidable technology company to bring electronic ULD tracking to the airline industry. We’ve been working in unison with CORE in testing and development of this technology. The results are quite impressive. This is the ultimate solution for ULD Equipment tracking available today.” Tucker further explained benefits for airlines customers, “This is a positive game-changer for ACL Airshop and its hundreds of airlines clients. COREInsight ULD service tracks these valuable assets in real time. FOR ACL’s airlines clients, we predict this will be a low-cost logistics efficacy enhancement that will remarkably improve how we can help them manage their fleet and save money long-term.”
Steve Townes, chairman of ACL Airshop and its parent company, said, “Speaking for our entire team of Ranger Airshop co-owners, we are excited to advance and accelerate this new logistics sophistication for ACL’s airline clients, and we are delighted to be partnering with such an excellent teammate as CORE Transport Technologies. We are aiming to accelerate Bluetooth tracking into usage for the many airlines customers who will value the compelling new efficiencies it is designed to deliver for their ULDs”
Rudolf Mulderij writes in FRESH PlAZA that demand for Kiwifruit is on the rise worldwide, but the supply has been affected by the weather. "New Zealand harvested less this campaign after a difficult growing season, with a hot winter and a lot of rain," explained a trader. Moreover, the Chilean production is also reported to have dropped, and now Italian kiwis are hitting the market and they also expect a smaller volume due to the impact of frost in certain regions and the dry summer. "As a result, the supply will be much scarcer, while the demand continues to rise," assures a trader.
New Zealand: Zespri is looking for new marketsZespri, the export organization of New Zealand kiwis, is seeing strong growth this season. The SunGold continues to grow in markets like Japan and China. Moreover, their sights are set on other markets in South East Asia, India and North America. The European market is also developing well, with strong demand all year round. Japan is the biggest market this season, accounting for the export of 23 million trays. The second most important market is China, accounting for 22 million trays.
The start of the season in the northern hemisphere is around the corner. The Italian volume is expected to amount to around 5 million trays, which is a notable growth. The company aims for the demand to grow faster than the supply, and that seems to be successful. As a result, priorities have to be set as far as the markets are concerned. For the coming years, significant expansions are expected in the acreage, with another 1,800 hectares in Europe and 400 hectares in New Zealand. The company is working on growth for the SunGold. Eventually, the share of green and yellow kiwis must be split 50/50.
The New Zealand economy continued to grow solidly in the June quarter, posting a 0.8 per cent increase in GDP, taking New Zealand's growth rate for the year to 2.7 per cent, Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.
“Our economy continues to outperform many developed nations, underpinned by strong export and domestic demand,” Mr Joyce says. “It is still a challenging international environment, which is why we need to continue with an economic plan that is working for New Zealand.”
New Zealand’s growth over the last year has exceeded that of Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA, the Euro area, Japan, and the average across the whole OECD.
Growth in the quarter was across 11 of 16 industries, including:
Retail, trade and accommodation (up 2.8 per cent)
Manufacturing activity (up 1.8 per cent)
Business services (up 1.1 per cent)
Transport, postal and warehousing activity (up 3.5 per cent)
Exports rose 5.2 per cent, with exports of goods posting its biggest quarterly increase in 20 years. Overall growth in the quarter was partially offset by the construction sector, which contracted 1.1 per cent in the quarter but up 6.4 per cent from June 2016.
Today’s GDP figures followed on from the release of New Zealand's external accounts yesterday, which showed a current account deficit of 2.8 per cent for the June year.
"This week’s economic growth statistics show that the Government’s consistent economic plan is encouraging businesses to invest and grow more jobs for New Zealanders. It is important to maintain and support business confidence if we are to continue our progress in the years ahead."
FreshPlaza - Sep 13, 2017 | What is expected to be the first of many shipments of tamarillo pulp has left Whangarei en route to a US-based food producer and distributor.
NZ Tamarillo Co-operative recently finalised a major deal with its produce destined to join Serious Foodie's product line as New Zealand Tamarillo Grill Sauce & Marinade and New Zealand Tamarillo Vinegar.
Serious Foodie sells online, through farmers' markets and is distributed into gourmet supermarkets and stores across the US and Canada.
More shipments will follow with the pulp from tamarillos grown in the North by the five orchards in the NZ Tamarillo Co-operative processed into pulp and vinegar concentrate here and then sent to the US in bulk.
Maungatapere based co-operative director/manager Robin Nitschke said he and other members of the Tamarillo Co-operative had been working on the deal for two and a half years and are delighted to have reached another milestone.
The co-operative was established three years ago to have more influence at the beginning of the supply chain by channelling all fruit through one merchant and to provide more choices to add value to the fruit at the end of the supply chain.
"So it is rewarding to finally achieve this milestone," Mr Nitschke said. "The importer tells me that feedback on our tamarillo products from customers in the States is very encouraging, with the potential for rapid growth into the specialty food sector".
Mr Nitschke said that after gaining recognition last year as finalists in the Artisan Food Awards, supermarkets, specialty food outlets and food service companies have been stocking the co-operative's products.
With technology being predicted to become New Zealand's number one exporting sector, the time has come to set out the vision. CEO of the Centre for Advanced Engineering and author of the recently released book Innovate! Richard Bentley shares his thoughts on how we can speed up the process with Idealog.
Professor Shaun Hendy (9 August) commented on the slow progress New Zealand has made toward the development of a technology-based exporting sector. As he reflected, the occasional successful start-up is not nearly enough.
In my recent book Innovate! , I present a detailed analysis of the state of our fifteen export-focused sectors, their prospects for growth, current thinking on being innovative and how our government supports exporters.
I find that amongst our advanced manufacturing sector we have a number of sophisticated exporters like Buckley Systems and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, and that there is an emerging group of exciting businesses. However, the new paradigm amongst wealthy nations is to be preeminent in advanced manufacturing - as manufacturing especially has extensive spillovers to the wider economy. As a consequence, new manufacturing technologies and processes are appearing, markets are becoming more competitive, and large multinational companies are adapting their businesses to tackle the very niche markets that our companies supply.
We also have exciting but unrealised opportunities in medical technologies, ICT, textiles, and in minerals developments, but our manufactured food, agritechnology and biotechnology sectors are fragmented and underperform. Thus our emerging technology-based economy has the feel of still being in start – up mode, and this seems to be reflected in recent data that shows exports as a percentage of GDP slowly falling, why the government’s often stated goal of doubling exports has been quietly dropped, and why our productivity remains so low.
So how do we address this challenge? The wealthy countries of the OECD are proactive in developing innovative, competitive and growing technology-based economies. They create environments where businesses grow through easy access to science and technology, where businesses work together and collaborate as opportunities emerge, and where resources are focused on science and technology development and transfer that’s good for business development.
In contrast, and since the 1980’s deregulation of our economy, our governments have adopted a passive approach to developing an innovative economy and to the development of business. This is why we have very poor interactions between business and researchers, and very few business facing centres of technology. This dysfunctionality, which I call the technology vacuum, was first revealed in the authoritative report Powering Innovation way back in 2011, as Shaun noted, and there has been no attempts to remedy the situation. Compounding the situation has been the collapse of the manufacturing - focused CRI Industrial Research Limited from low sales.
Paradoxically, we have a superb science system, led by the universities and the Centres of Research Excellence (the CoREs), and we have numerous world class scientists. However, nearly all the science research vote continues to be allocated to university scientists on the basis of best science and not to research needs informed by business.
Government, having stripped itself of all its technology capability, needs to form a new Innovation Council comprising the universities, business and NZTE, to look into the situation in each of our fifteen important export sectors and to work out how government could assist them better. Each has its own issues and opportunities. These initiatives will give businesses better access to the science and technology capability in our universities, they will create environments that encourage more coordination, collaboration and innovation between export businesses, and they will deliver OECD type energised innovative environments.
My preference, set out in detail in Innovate!, is to create a network of university-based technology hubs, effectively a technology – focused business facing version of the CoRE network. They would be wholly funded by government and established for example in robotics and sensing, IT for manufacturing, cyber technologies, technical textiles, agritechnology, and advanced food, to name only a few areas to illustrate. These are the technologies that underpin the development of a competitive exporting sector. I would scrap the R&D grant system as it does not create innovative firms or innovative collaborative sectors, and I would put these funds into the network. The hubs would also become the place where businesses within sectors meet, collaborate, agree sector strategies and inform research needs as occurs at the Auckland University - hosted Product Accelerator. And I would collapse the economically focussed CRIs and Callaghan Innovation into this network.
Governments create innovative economies not markets. A step change in effort by our government is required to bring Sir Paul Callaghan’s dream of a sophisticated significant technology-based export sector to a reality and to reduce our dependence on commodity agriculture exports and tourism.
Richard Bentley (CNZM) has worked in New Zealand industry and in the science and innovation system for nearly four decades – see his website. Innovate! Transforming New Zealand’s technology-based economy was published in August 2017 by Steele Roberts, Wellington.