An Alexandra orchardist is planning to almost double the area of fruit trees he has in production to meet the increasing worldwide demand for organic fruit.

Springvale Orchard and Central Organics co-owner Chris Denniston said growth in the organic fruit market had risen significantly and he was expanding production to meet the demand.

'We are noticing it growing every year,'' Mr Denniston said.

He had 150ha in BioGro-certified organic apple and cherry production in the area, and intended to increase that to about 250ha, mostly in apples, over five years.


That included about 5ha on leased land in Galloway.

''We have done the pipe work and the trees have arrived,'' Mr Denniston said.

They pack their fruit at the Central Organics packhouse, the only registered organic packhouse in the South Island, which they lease from T & G Pipfruit in Ettrick.

About 130,000 cartons of various varieties of apples were exported all over the world this past season.

''Our main market is America and the UK and that is all size-orientated,'' he said.

''There is a demand for small apples.

''We do a lot of work with Tescos, as they want small sizes for bagging for school lunches.

''We had about 100 tonnes of cherries and a lot of that went to Whole Foods Market in the United States and that went really well.''


Mr Denniston grows high colour Royal Gala apple varieties to meet customers' preferences, especially those in Asian markets, as well as Fuji, Braeburn, Pacific Rose and Pacific Queen, plus some Honeycrisps with neighbour Murray Bell.

They recently sent their first consignment of Honeycrisps to the United States and he said it went well.

''We got really high returns and American consumers like the sweetness.''

The orchards have been fully BioGro-certified since 1996 .

''We went that way for financial reasons and as a point of difference in the market, as we were doing something that nobody else was doing.''

He also enjoyed the challenge and wanted to keep away from chemicals.

Some of his fruit is also processed into cider vinegar, which is receiving a lot of attention for its healthy properties.

''Central Otago has got the best climate for growing organic fruit,'' he said.