First Fresh New Zealand, based in Gisborne, New Zealand, is looking forward to the 2021 export persimmon and citrus season following a successful 2020 program says Managing Director Ian Albers.
"The challenges that Covid-19 posed in 2020 were overcome mostly however early season shipments were affected by lack of flights and cost of airfreight. Most customers switched to seafreight earlier than normal and this did mitigate these challenges. Persimmon demand was affected by the severity and length of lockdowns so some markets performed well while others were challenging," said Ian.
“We saw good growth in Vietnam for instance and this was a pleasing aspect of 2020 to build on into the 2021 season. On the citrus front all markets performed well. I guess the high Vitamin C content of citrus, lemons particularly contributed to that. Most of our programs are retail focussed so we also benefitted from the fact that people cooked and ate at home more than ever. For citrus Japan and the US were our main markets. Given a lighter crop of Meyer lemons we had to reduce our program into some other markets but by and large this worked out pretty well.”
First Fresh have begun engaging with their international customers and planning for 2021 is progressing well. Ian said it is still a bit early to say exactly what the season will bring.
“Certainly we know that export logistics will be challenging and I think we will need to be nimble in this area. Again it will be a market by market type scenario and we will plan accordingly. We are expecting increases in both persimmon and lemon volumes.”
Perhaps the biggest news for First Fresh is that Brian Pepper, long time employee and product manager for persimmons is leaving the business after 22 years.
“He will finish at the end of March and will be sorely missed. His replacement has started so that gives us a decent handover period. Brian’s replacement is Grant Walsh who was until recently the General Manager of Global Sales for Rockit Apples. Grant hails from Gisborne originally and was commuting to Hawkes Bay for his role at Rockit. We are excited to have Grant on board,” said Ian.