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Michael Franks - Seeka
"We remain active investors in the avocado sector"The New Zealand avocado season is proceeding much as expected, with volumes down around 50% on last year, it may be down by a further 15% but it is difficult estimate as some orchards are selectively picked.
"As far as volumes and size profile we are right on estimate at the moment," said Seeka CEO, Michael Franks.
According to Franks the pricing in Australia is strong but not at its previous peak which he considered unsustainable for both the market and positive category growth. "Seeka has retail supply commitments which our growers understand and are committed to fulfilling. In addition to Australia, Seeka has established customers in Japan and this year in South Korea for the first time."
He goes on to say that while you cannot predict the market – it is likely that the market should hold at these levels for a while. "The market has achieved equilibrium – and it will depend a little on the West Australian fruit volumes which are normally at full volume now."
Seeka recently invested in a new avocado orchard in the far north of New Zealand. The company is part of a syndicate which purchased The Rising Sun orchard. "We remain active investors in the avocado sector," explained Franks. "We remain interested in properties that meet our criteria. Seeka is a produce company. While our foundation is kiwifruit, we remain interested in fully integrated produce opportunities where we can deliver excellence from the orchard to the market. We are considering options for the post-harvest operations to support our Northland business."
The far north is a different growing environment from the Bay of Plenty – Seeka's traditional home. The soils are poorer with a sandy base requiring a different nutritional regime. There is a hard “iron-pan” beneath the soil which is required to be broken in developing orchards to allow for water removal. And ironically irrigation and access to water in the summer is equally important.
"In moving into the far north we are mindful of retaining the local expertise to help us with the cultivation of the crop and in our investment orchards we are trying to retain the vendors involvement in the property."
Franks does not think the avocado bubble will burst anytime soon. "The Chinese market is not yet open for New Zealand avocados but will provide a new market when it does. The Australian market remains a good market for our avocados with domestic and imported fruit working well to deliver the supply. Avocados grown in New Zealand tend to take longer to mature than those in more tropical markets. The result is a flavoursome buttery tasting fruit renowned for its quality. If we continue to supply a great tasting and high quality piece of fruit then there will be no issues with the market," according to Franks.
The avocados which do not make the export grade sell on the local market. Seeka also produces oil which is pressed, refined and bottled by Seeka and marketed for export by the Bostock company – Azora - to key Asian markets.
For more information:
Phone: +64 7573 0303
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