NZ: Challenging cherry season, but high quality

The cherry season in Central Otago, New Zealand, has been challenging, with cool weather and regular rainfall.

"There has been good demand for Central Otago, New Zealand, cherries in all markets," explains Tim Jones, a grower for 45 South and director of Central Otago Premium Fruit Limited. "This is predominantly due to the good fruit quality coming out of New Zealand."

"The quality of cherries is high and sizes are good. The brix levels are reasonably good reflecting the quality of the product. With greater sunshine hours the brix levels would have been higher. The markets have been very happy with the quality product they are receiving."

At this stage of the season the volumes are up on last year, but with ten days to go it is yet to be determined if last year's volume's will be exceeded.

Central Otago, New Zealand Cherries are differentiated in the market by their consistent quality, the provenance story of clean waters, clear skies, cold winters and hot summers and the connections to the growers, according to Tim. "As well as the growing conditions - free-draining, schist soils, give locally-grown cherries a distinctively bold, complex sweetness not found elsewhere. These markets want to know who grows the produce and their connections to the land."

Almost all New Zealand’s export cherries are produced in Central Otago. They are considered an international delicacy in the Asian marketplace, where they are often given as a prestigious gift.

Earlier in December, Central Otago Premium Fruit Ltd celebrated the start of the Central Otago cherry season with an official launch attended by international fruit industry representatives, wholesalers, airline representatives and Central Otago fruit growers.

The Growers for RD8 Fresh Produce team, Dean Astili, Robert Quinn, Tim Jones, Stephen Darling, Malcolm Macpherson (Chairman), Sid Brytles, Allan MacKay, Simon Webb and Gary Bennetts

Hosted by Central Otago Premium Fruit Ltd, the event was attended by 48 delegates, including guests from China and New Zealand. Shanghai-based New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Trade Commissioner, Damon Paling, also attended.

Central Otago Premium Fruit Ltd is a prestigious global brand that markets and sells Central Otago cherries into Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, the United States and New Zealand, as well as apricots into the United States.

The brand is experiencing strong growth as a high-end brand in all Asian markets. While the biggest market for New Zealand cherries is Taiwan, the Central Otago Premium Fruit brand is experiencing a big increase in sales to China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Behind the brand is a collaborative company of local, Central Otago, growers who supply Central Otago fruit to the world. The growers represent many small family orchards all striving to produce the finest, hand-grown fruit. They also share a love and respect for Central Otago’s high mountains, deep valleys and clear rivers.

Central Otago Premium Fruit Ltd works primarily with two export suppliers, RD8 Fresh Produce, Foodview. RD8 Fresh Produce supplies Central Otago cherries into Vietnam, Malaysia and the United States, while Foodview supplies cherries primarily to China.

RD8 Fresh Produce Export Manager, Robert Quinn, says “Our customers relish the opportunity to market cherries and apricots under the Central Otago brand and recognise that they are getting the very best produce from the very best growers in the district. Their customers in turn are becoming familiar with the brand and are drawn to the attributes it represents, especially the pristine natural environment the fruit is grown in.”

Central Otago apricots – which are available in January and February - are also exported from Central Otago Premium Fruit growers to the United States in partnership with RD8 Fresh Produce.

For more information:
Anne Pullar
Central Otago Premium Fruit Ltd
Tel: +64 27 229 7605

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