12 Aug 2015

Ripe opportunities for kiwifruit grower

11:40 am on 12 August 2015

The country's biggest kiwifruit grower, post-harvest operator Seeka, is about to become Australia's biggest kiwifruit producer as well.

Green kiwifruit growers got their highest ever return per hectare of $53,884 and just over $6 a tray.

Seeka grows and packs kiwifruit from Northland to Hawke's Bay. Photo: 123RF

It has signed an agreement to buy the kiwifruit and orcharding business of Bunbartha Fruit Packers, based in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria, one of Australia's main fruit growing regions.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said it would diversify the company's fruit production and its supply base.

Mr Franks said he expected the deal to be finalised next week, provided it met regulatory and other conditions in Australia.

Seeka's New Zealand operations include kiwifruit growing and packing operations from Northland to Hawke's Bay.

It also grows, processes and markets avocados, kiwiberries and kiwifruit to Australia and some other markets, and imports bananas.

Mr Franks said it pushed the company towards being more of a produce company

"It builds on our platform of kiwifruit, but it also adds new produce varieties.

"It means that every month of the year, Seeka or Seeka grown products will be in retail in Australia and it doubles our sales footprint here in this key market.

"There's about 250 hectares of orchards: around 95 of those hectares are kiwifruit, there's 66 hectares of Nashi pear and 40 hectares of other pear varieties. They also grow plum, cherries and apricots."

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