In some regions of New Zealand, the apple harvest has been underway for a few weeks, but the harvest at JR’s Orchards in Wairarpa an hour’s drive from the capital Wellington, the harvest has just started.
“We started the harvest late last week,” explains Jamiee Burns, Operations Director. “Sizes are up and the colour is stunning. The brix is around 13.2 at the moment and pressure is very good at 9.1lb. We had a stunning growing season, and a lovely summer so flavour will be up. We have a good water supply and our region has been lucky as we didn’t get any hail.”
“A lot more of the Galaxy variety has come on stream this year and Royal Gala volume is up, Galaxy is a high colour strain of Gala. Our new variety SunGlow Red, is in its third season, but in the first two we only had limited volumes, this year we should do around 50 containers. This will mainly go to the Asian, Indian and Middle East markets where there is strong demand for New Zealand fruit.”
Jamiee said she had not noticed a drop in volumes in orders from Asia, but because its early in the season she will the supermarket programs first which are in UK and European markets.
“There is also good demand from UK and Europe who are looking to stock New Zealand product from the first week of April. The varieties going to Europe and the UK will be Royal Gala, Braeburn Granny Smith and a little bit of Fuji. In general there is a decline in Braeburn demand from New Zealand, but Braeburn from our region is very different from that from Hawes Bay in that the pressure is higher and the fruit is sweeter, we have different growing conditions and some of the beautiful apples which grow in Hawkes Bay I can’t grow here.”
Asian and Indian markets
The Asian and Indian markets are looking for the sweet red varieties such as Galaxy and high coloured Gala, SunGlow, Pacific Rose and the club varieties Envy and Jazz.
“In China we have quite a few direct clients which we have been building on in the last couple of years, instead of having to through Hong Kong based clients. There is also a huge demand for our fruit in India, but the thing that stops more fruit going there is the 50% tariffs These duties make it a little bit prohibitive in some places. Each country has different tariffs into India. It is still possible to compete despite these tariff but it depends on who your customer is, you may have a hundred people wanting your fruit but only ten percent of them will actually buy it because they have the retail space for it to go in that can afford the price. There are a lot of developments going on there especially hotel chains and hypermarkets which are all high-end customers. Vietnam and Malaysia are growing for us too.”
New Brand - Capital
JR’s recently launched a new brand Capital, named after their proximity to Wellington the capital of New Zealand and that they are the only apple grower there. It has the same quality as the well-known ECCO brand but gives the flexibility of being able to offer exclusive supply to customers in the marketplace and its also allowing the company to expand into more markets by having the two brands. The Capital is predominately in Asia but will be in the EU and UK for the first time this year, last year they did one container there but this year they are looking to send 25 containers to EU and UK. 70% of the production is under the ECCO brand and 30% Capital, but it’s only the second season for Capital and it is growing quickly.