Kiwi Produce won the Bennetts Proactive Supreme Award at the 10th Te Puke Business Excellence Awards this year.

"Our team is really thrilled with the result," said Kiwi Produce's Geoff Oliver, who with his wife, Nicky, founded the specialist packhouse operation on their family orchard 30 years ago. Kiwi Produce also won the Zespri Agriculture/Horticulture/Industrial Award category.

The Paengaroa-based company has been a pioneer in developing the jumbo kiwifruit and the kiwiberry segments of the market. In the past three years, it has diversified into producing a range of new kiwifruit products, including Kiwilicious Dried Kiwifruit and Kiwilicious IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) Kiwifruit.

"Lately we've been processing waste kiwifruit and have developed new markets in New Zealand and in about five new countries," said Mr Oliver.


Kiwi Produce also recently picked up a contract to provide a Gold kiwifruit ingredient for a Japanese manufacturer of an iceream that is expected to be distributed into 3500 7-11 stores in Tokyo, said Mr Oliver.

The company now packs more than 2 million tray equivalents of locally grown fruit for domestic and export markets and employs from 30 to 60 staff. The business operates six coolstores on the same site as the packhouse.

Kiwi Produce is also a strong supporter of the local community, in particular the Maketu Fire Station and Coastguard Maketu.

Mark Boyle, chief executive of event organiser Te Puke EDG, said this year's awards, held Friday night at the Te Puke Town Hall, had been an outstanding success, drawing 170 attendees. Despite being a relatively small district with 17,000 people, it continued to deliver a first-class programme that matched the business awards in the main cities.

"Our judging panel was very impressed with the quality of management, vision and passion of the nominees," Mr Boyle said.

"The continuing support for the event is solid with outstanding sponsors, enthusiastic business owners and managers, and highly motivated staff who make these businesses tick."

Guest speaker Sir Bob Harvey delivered a presentation on leadership, based on his own story and learnings.

Nominees this year were an interesting mix with contestants from the corporate sector, small- to medium-sized enterprises, a school and a local church, said Mr Boyle.

Te Puke Business Awards winners:

* Bennetts Proactive Supreme Award - Kiwi Produce
* Bupa Te Puke Country Lodge Food & Beverage Award - Ella's Cafe
* Western Bay of Plenty District Council Retail Award - Blacketts Life Pharmacy
* Carter House Service Award - Ray White Te Puke
* Trevelyan's New/Emerging Business Award - Te Puke Diner
* Zespri Agriculture/Horticulture/Industrial Award - Kiwi Produce Tourism BOP
* Exceptional Employee Award - Vianne Miller, BNZ customer service