NZ: Global demand for mini-apples drives orchard investment

Fielding rural investment company, MyFarm is chasing $13 million for the lease and development of four apple orchards in Hawke's Bay.

The investment group will grow the niche export apple brand Rockit, which is a mini-apple under licence by Rockit Global.

One of the Rockit Global's challenges has been growing enough apples to meet global demand despite production lifting 40 per cent on last year.

In spite of higher numbers, the crop sold out several months earlier than last year and delivered a price increase to growers. 

The miniature snack apples, sold in a plastic tube, are grown under license in nine countries and sold in airports, sports stadiums, and in cafes in 29 countries.
MyFarm chief executive, Andrew Watters said it had worked closely with Rockit Global to create a one-off opportunity for New Zealanders to share in its apple success story.
He said Rākete Orchards Limited Partnership would lease and fund the planting of 55 hectares across four orchard blocks in the Heretaunga Plains of Hawke's Bay. This would be the only new planting of Rockit apple trees in New Zealand next year.
Rockit Global would provide the Rockit apple trees, orchard management services, packing and storing and markets and sell the apples offshore.
The Rākete Orchards lease model, with a term of 18 years plus two rights of renewal of five years each, suited the production of the trade marked apple which had a further 22 years to run under its plant variety rights, Watters said.
MyFarm is forecasting that the partnership would generate a higher return than the "darling" of New Zealand horticulture, Gold3 Kiwifruit.

Watters said investors were forecasted to receive the value of their original investment back within seven years.

"It's a stunning product and an outstanding, unusual investment opportunity. Rockit has cleverly marketed its niche as a sweet crisp, small apple perfect for snacking and then carefully controlled its licensing and supply."
Applications for the partnership offer for 1300 parcels of $10,000 closes on December 15.

Watters said investors had previously responded swiftly to opportunities to access returns from the pip fruit industry. 

"MyFarm's $3.6 million capital raise to purchase a Hawkes Bay apple orchard in July was fully subscribed within one week of issue."

The company is a specialist syndication business providing land-based investment opportunities in dairy farms, sheep and beef farms, the horticulture sector and rural commercial property. It has more than $500 million of rural assets under management.


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