SEEKA Kiwifruit Industries has delivered record returns to growers from its SeekaFresh programmes, primarily into Australia, the company says.
In its latest grower forecast, Seeka said Class 2 returns per Class 1 tray averaged .24 for Hayward Green (conventional) and .50 for Hayward Green (organic) in 2014, well up on last year and significantly ahead of industry average forecasts of .14 for conventional and .16 for organic green. The season also saw record returns for SeekaFresh-marketed avocados and kiwiberries.
"Lean overhead cost structures plus an Australia programme directed at major retailers rather than wholesalers, supported by promotions, planning and quality, have delivered Seeka growers record returns," said Seeka chief executive Michael Franks.
Seeka, New Zealand's biggest kiwifruit grower and a leading post-harvest operator, has been active in the Australian market for eight years under its SeekaFresh brand.
This year Seeka growers produced 1.2 million trays of conventional Class 2 green, with 800,000 trays directly sold by SeekaFresh into Australia and the balance marketed via Zespri's own small Class 2 programme to selected other countries.
Seeka said the organic category had performed particularly well in Australia. Hayward organic volumes were up more than 400 per cent on 2013, while conventional Class 2 green volumes were up by 60 per cent.
Tony Ponder, chairman of the Horticulture Export Authority's Kiwifruit to Australia Product Group, said New Zealand exported about 4.16 million trays of Class 2 kiwifruit to Australia this year. In addition to Seeka, the other major exporters were NutriKiwi, EastPack's joint venture with Opac, DMS and Trevelyan's, and Team Kiwi Ltd (TKL), a collective including Apata and Humes, which uses the marketing services of Southern Produce and Primor Produce. Mr Ponder is a director of Southern Produce.
"Seeka and TKL are really the only two companies involved in the retail scene," said Mr Ponder.
Ray Hook, Seeka's general manager for retail services, said Seeka growers of conventional and organics were receiving record returns for Class 2 on the back of a successful and growing retail programme.
"The SeekaFresh brand is being recognised as premium in Australia and we're looking to a multi-product strategy to increase our penetration into more major retailers," he said.
SeekaFresh manager Annmarie Lee said about 75 per cent of the company's Australia business went directly to major supermarkets.
"Our retail programme means Seeka's growers get the benefits of avoiding the volatility in the wholesale market."