Zeffer cider juiced for Hawke's Bay move

By Patrick O'Sullivan -
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Zeffer head cider maker Jody Scott is packing his company’s bags for Hawke's Bay.
Zeffer head cider maker Jody Scott is packing his company’s bags for Hawke's Bay.

An Auckland export cider company is moving to Hawke's Bay and selling shares to help make the move.

Zeffer cider will use the money from a public capital offer of up to $1.2 million to help launch its Asian export strategy, drive further growth and relocate to the Hawke's Bay.

Zeffer's sales and marketing director, Josh Townsend, said the move from its Silverdale operation north of Auckland was being made to be closer to its apple supply as production volumes grew.

The entire cider-making operation would move to Hawke's Bay in July, including its bottling plant, bringing 10 new jobs to the region.

Distribution, with 20 per cent exported, was already from Hawke's Bay.

"As soon as our lease came up we jumped at the opportunity to relocate," Mr Townsend said.

More than one Hawke's Bay site was under consideration.

Zeffer exports to the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, China, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

Mr Townsend said the cider sector was worth more than $100m annually in New Zealand, with Zeffer producing more than 300,000 litres, and international cider sales had grown at a compound 25 per cent annually for the past five years.

The global market was expected to grow by an additional 730 million litres through to 2021.

Zeffer was focusing on two export markets - China and Thailand, he said.

"Mainstream beer brands have stalled in recent years as consumers have become more educated and demanding of more premium or craft beers.

"We believe the same trend towards premiumisation will emerge for cider.

"Whilst cider is still a relatively new concept for China and Thailand, we've noticed it's now really starting to take off. Given their respective free-trade agreements, climates, burgeoning middle class and their demand for craft beverage now booming, it presents massive opportunities for us to capitalise on."

With support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise next month, Zeffer would set up point-of-sale systems, provide customised marketing collateral and train local sales teams in the two countries where distribution agreements were in place.

"We will continue to sell in and explore other international markets as opportunities arise, such as Singapore, but we anticipate the bulk of our export growth over the next two years will come from China."

New Zealand would still be a focus and would be the test market for new products.

"Our long-term goal is to grow Zeffer to 10 per cent of the total New Zealand market share in off-premise cider sales, from approximately 1 per cent to 2 per cent currently."

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