Apple grower Rockit Global has been named ExportNZ Hawke's Bay's ASB Exporter of the Year.

Rockit Global, which owns the rights to the small variety of apple, also won the Napier Port Industry Trail Blazer Award.

Rockit Global chairman John Loughlin said the apple never failed to impress people.

"New Zealand is responsible for probably the greatest innovation in fruit, the gold Kiwifruit. Our ambition is to put Rockit apples right up there with them," he said.

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He gave tribute to the vision and drive of founder Phil Alison to establish the product and the contribution of angel investors and the Rockit team in Havelock North.

"This has the potential to be something really special and it is fantastic to be recognised so early in our journey."

Winner of the Tomoana Food Hub Innovation in Export Award was sausage casing maker NZ Casing Company.

The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Most Sustainable in Export award winner was beauty products and naturopathic medicines manufacturer Weleda.

Freeze Dried Snack manufacturer Kiwigarden won the NZL ContainerCo Emerging Exporter award, which saw director and former All Black captain Taine Randell on stage to accept the award.

Lamb exporter Atkins Ranch, which was a finalist in three categories, was awarded the Judges' Choice Award.

Opening speaker at the sold-out Napier Conference Centre event was Finance Minister Steven Joyce. He said Hawke's bay had many talented companies but the essential ingredients were innovation and grit.

"It is the toughest job to get out there and export successful," he said.

"Not enough New Zealanders understand the importance of what you are doing."

Business Central and ExportNZ Hawke's Bay chief executive John Milford said exporters were New Zealand's heroes.

"They're out there fighting hard in the international marketplace every day, generating jobs and income to the tune of $70 billion each year to ensure we can maintain our standard of living," he said.

ExportNZ Hawke's Bay executive officer Amanda Liddle said support from the business community for the awards was overwhelming.

"It's fantastic to pay tribute to the hard work exporters do every day, especially when seeking out new markets and often leaving their families for long periods of time," she said.

Last year's winner was Whakatu lighting, furniture, and jewellery designer David Trubridge, who also picked up the Napier Port Most Sustainable in Export Award.

ASB Bank head of Trade Finance Mike Atkins told the sold-out audience that quality submissions from a diverse range of industry sectors made for close and intense competition.

"Kiwi ambition can take us a long way," he said.

The finalists were: NZL ContainerCo Emerging Exporter: Mogul; Telegraph Hill; Kiwigarden.
Tomoana Food Hub Innovation in Export Award: Atkins Ranch; Hawke's Bay China Marketing Group; Rockit Global; NZ Casing Company.
Napier Port Industry Trail Blazer: Atkins Ranch; Rockit Global.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Most Sustainable in Export: Atkins Ranch; Weleda; NZ Casing Company.