Seeka Limited will invest $18m in its Northland post harvest business over the next three years. It was earlier this year that Seeka purchased T&G Global Limited’s postharvest facilities in Kerikeri and the company is investing in new post harvest capacity, packing machines, packing shed and coolstores.
The investment will signiﬁcantly lift the capacity of the business and give growers better harvest timing across all varieties handled, kiwifruit, avocados and citrus, says Seeka chief executive Michael Franks.
“We are here for the long term. This investment will provide world class facilities in the heart of Northland. “We want to support the communities we are part of and contribute to the local economy through investment and employment.
“The investment also delivers Seeka a competitive edge. We are ensuring our local people have the right infrastructure to deliver quality, price and service in our post harvest business.
“We are investing to support our existing growers along with the tremendous support of new growers choosing Seeka as their post harvest service provider,” says Michael.
He says that Seeka has identiﬁed Northland as a growth area and establishing a post-harvest hub in Northland was a priority to service existing growers.
Alongside this investment Seeka is transforming the information systems on site before the construction of additional coolstorage later next year.
The coolstores will essentially see a doubling of the precooling and cooling capacity. The construction of the buildings and equipment will be completed in time for the 2019 harvest.
Seeka is an integrated horticultural and produce company that grows, processes, distributes and markets high quality produce to world markets.
It offers integrated orcharding (mainly running orchards owned by other people through leasing or managed structures), post-harvest and supply services.
The company is substantially New Zealand owned with more than 75% owned by New Zealanders and is listed on the NZX. Growers do not have to be a shareholder to supply the company with fruit.
Seeka’s primary product is kiwifruit and it is a key supplier to the global kiwifruit trade with around 20% market share in New Zealand.
With the kiwifruit industry predicting export earnings to increase 165% by 2025 with increased production of the popular SunGold variety Seeka is positioned to beneﬁt from the industry’s predicted growth, says Michael.
Seeka is also heavily invested in the avocado industry and has set the benchmark for returns to growers in each of the last ﬁve years, says Michael.
He says Seeka is involved in every step of the supply chain to produce great tasting fruit with good storage properties, which it provides to wholesalers and retailers.
Seeka exports most of its New Zealand avocados to the high returning Australian market where they are sold under the Seeka brand.
Seeka also complements the Australian sales with sales to Korea, Japan and this year China for the ﬁrst time.
Seeka is the exclusive licensee holder for GEM avocados in New Zealand, an alternative variety to Hass, with commercial volumes expected from orchards in 2020.
GEM are believed to hold well on the tree later in the season delivering an important fruit yield to the post Christmas Australian market, explains Michael.
A small but exciting subsidiary of Seeka, is the new start-up, Delicious Nutritious Food Company producing high value nutritional foods – Kiwi Crush, Kiwi Crushies and avocado oil.
Kiwi Crush is natural kiwifruit based drink which helps to keep the digestive system regular and healthy.
He says that the product is recommended and used by hospitals, rest homes and dietitians as an alternative to laxatives. The ice-block version, Kiwi Crushies has proved popular with kids, he says.
“Seeka has strong relationships with its growers and with the business’ aptitude for taking new opportunities, this new business is a natural ﬁt for Seeka’s culture, capabilities and aim to deliver proﬁts to stakeholders,” says Michael.
Nashi and European pears are other products which are grown at Seeka Australia’s orchards in Bunbartha, Victoria. Michael says Australia is a signiﬁcantly different environment from its traditional growing base in New Zealand.
“There are two fundamental differences being the temperature in the summer – where there are high temperatures and sunshine hours every day and a lack of water.
“the heat and sunshine hours deliver a great tasting fruit but water management is essential,” he explains.
Seeka Australia is the largest grower of kiwifruit (80% market share, albeit much lower numbers than New Zealand industry) and largest nashi pear grower (90% market share) as well as European pears and some stone fruit.
Seeka is the grower, packer and distributor providing the majority of its produce to the domestic Australian market.
Seeka’s supply in Australia is projected to grow following signiﬁcant development and investment to meet increasing market demand for premium produce.
Michael says that Seeka has grown signiﬁcantly over the last ﬁve years as it deploys its strategy with acquisitions in Australia and Northland.
He says that the move to develop new packing facilities and coolstorage positions Seeka to take advantage of the growth expectations in the area and that the company continues to positively look for expansion options in the region and international demand for product.
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