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Cherry grower building success through direct relationships

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One of New Zealand's largest cherry orchards says finding more direct clients will help drive sales, as it expands production over the next five seasons writes Matthew Russell for FreshPlaza.

Trophy Ridge Cherries Owner and Managing Director Graeme McMillan says he finds offshore clients want to deal directly with a grower/exporter to strengthen the integrity in the partnership.

"We find that a lot of people now want to come and have a look and see who you are and what you are," he said. "They can come and visit the orchard, they can come along to the packhouse. We encourage that because we have got nothing to hide. They come prior to Christmas to have a look at what we might be able to supply and they get an idea of what varieties we have. Everything is done to a high standard, and when the agents come here they see that. They can ring you up and it's the same person each year, because we own it."

Mr McMillan and his family brought the 40-hectare property 13 kilometres to the North of Cromwell, on the South Island, 15 years ago and sub divided the land with 23ha dedicated to growing cherries and 7ha for apples. The company has its own export licence and has a share in the local packhouse, with the main production period from mid-December to late January, and a peak around Christmas.

Trophy Ridge Cherries grows 13 varieties of the fruit on a "maturing orchard", with production expected to more than double - from 160 tonnes last season to over 400 tonnes, over the next 3-4 years.