Hawke's Bay apple growers, pickers and packers overcame harsh growing conditions last year, helping pick more than half a billion apples - and even more are expected to be picked this year.
In its latest financial result for the year-ended December 2017, Mr Apple owner, the Scales Corporation, revealed Mr Apple export volumes remained "consistent" with the previous record year, with 3.5 million trays of apples (weighing about 63,000 tonnes) exported in 2017.
Although pre-tax earnings (ebitda) for the NZX 50-listed Scales Corporation, which also operates coldstores and supplies pet food ingredients, fell 9 per cent for the year to $62 million, that is still higher than the three years prior to 2016.
Mr Apple accounted for $36.6m of ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation).
Net profit for the year (including non-cash IFRS adjustments) was $31.8m (FY2016: $38.2m).
Earnings per share for FY2017 were 22.6c per share (2016: 27.4c per share).
"This is a very satisfying result in light of a challenging growing season and some competitive trading conditions", Scales Corporation chairman Tim Goodacre said.
"It demonstrates the skill, knowledge and personal application of all of the Scales team to continue to deliver excellent returns.
"As reported in our half-year results, the Hawke's Bay region experienced a difficult growing season. However, the horticulture team produced an overall export volume consistent with the record 2016 crop and an export packout percentage also in line with the prior year.
"This was supported by an excellent performance within the storage and logistics division and a solid result from the food ingredients division."
Revenues from the S an L division rose 16 per cent to $126m, with ebitda also rising 18 per cent to $19.1m.
Scales Corporation managing director Andy Borland said the result reflected the positive impact of "careful investment" made in prior years in order to respond to climatic and market conditions.
"We invested $13.5m in capital expenditure during FY2017 and our net debt at 31 December 2017 was $40.8m. Our strong financial position and low gearing enables us to react quickly and confidently to potential strategic acquisitions and other opportunities.
"During the year Scales declared dividends of 19.0c per share. As in previous years, the board expects to declare a final dividend in respect of FY2017 in May, with payment in July."
Lat year the company completed a merger of its coldstores, combining the South island-based Polarcold Stores and its Auckland coldstore brand with its Hawke's Bay Whakatu Coldstores.
Mr Boland told Hawke's Bay Today that its Hawke's Bay operations remained a "key part" of the Scales coldstorage network.
"We have five active sites in Hawke's Bay, obviously the largest complex at Whakatu being the biggest of these sites. Our coldstores are a critical supply chain partner for many of the Bay's food production businesses providing temperature controlled storage for products such as petfood, apple juice concentrate, frozen vegetables, meat etcetera."
The company stated this year's apple harvest was already under way and early indications were "positive", given harvesting started 7 to 10 days ahead of last year.
Gross production was expected to be about the same as 5-year average volumes, and export volumes, determined by packout performance, hoped to be slightly ahead of 2017.
Company directors believe that and other factors will result in an increase in ebitda of $7m .