13 Nov 2011

Mixed grower feelings about Turners takeover bid

5:38 am on 13 November 2011

Fruitgrowers are hoping that better returns will flow from a change of ownership in the wind for the country's biggest fresh produce marketer, Turners & Growers.

But there's also grower concern about the potential loss of intellectual property rights for New Zealand fruit varieties to overseas interests.

The German company BayWa has launched a $285 million takeover offer for the company, which sells about $1 billion worth of fruit and vegetables globally each year.

BayWa has already made a deal to buy Guiness Peat Group's 63% stake in Turners & Growers and has made a full takeover offer for the rest of the shares.

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says the German company is a major fruit supplier in Europe and that should benefit New Zealand's fruit export trade.

Turners & Growers owns some new kiwifruit varieties and through its subsidiary ENZA also owns the rights to some New Zealand apple varieties such as Jazz and Envy.

Pipfruit New Zealand chair Ian Palmer says it's unclear what will happen to those property rights, and that's a concern for growers.

Mr Palmer says however that apple growers will also be hoping BayWa's intention to improve returns for growers will bear fruit, as returns for flagship varieties like Jazz have been below the cost of production for three seasons.