Sharon Kirk - Southern Fruits International

Good volumes of NZ cherries for for Lunar New Year

The first cherry varieties from New Zealand's Southern Fruits International are usually ready by late December and the harvest then continues with varieties ripening progressively until February. The company grows a total of eight cherry varieties each with a distinctive colour and flavour profile with the common factors being big, sweet, crisp cherries. Harvest timing may vary by a week or two depending on conditions in the orchard leading up to harvest.

"Our orchards are spread throughout Central Otago – which is known for producing New Zealand’s best cherries because of our climate and mineral-rich soils," explains Sharon Kirk, International Sales and Marketing Manager at Southern Fruits International. "We have four large-scale orchards producing crops at Tarras Cherry Corp, Lindis Peaks, Mt Pisa and Ardgour Valley Orchards. In total, the orchards span about 245 hectares."

The weather in the growing regions has been good so far, although frosts meant that the company had to have their wind machines operating.

"We’re expecting to export approximately 500MT of cherries this season with about 70 per cent of the crop destined for export markets. We will also supply our first small volumes of New Zealand-bred apricots.

"Our main markets include Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia others are emerging in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Europe and the United States. Demand for New Zealand cherries remains strong, and our timing is perfect for Lunar New Year and festive season celebrations. Our advantage over our competitor Chile is that we send our fruit by air, so our cherries can arrive within two days of picking."

Sharon said that they have recently made inroads into the UK market and look forward to sending some cherries from New Zealand during the Northern Hemisphere winter.

"We see an opportunity in Europe, we started connecting with new buyers in the UK well ahead of Asia Fruit Logistica in November in readiness for this season and met many buyers at the trade show who are eagerly anticipating our cherries! We believe the market is ready to discover more about New Zealand cherries and will love what we have to offer."

Hidden Valley is the brand created for cherries from Tarras Cherry Corp. The story of the brand was created around the orchard being in a remote location. When you go there, it’s like going on a treasure hunt to find our cherries according to Sharon.

"We’ve incorporated the brand story into packaging and the website with graphic details including the flora and fauna of the region, the unique topography and the New Zealand falcon, the karearea which lives there. Our other brand launching this year is Beyond which is the brand for cherries produced by Deep Creek Fruits at Lindis Peaks and Mt Pisa orchards. We focussed in on the attributes of our cherries and our efforts all along the supply chain – going above and beyond – to devise this brand story. Next year, we hope to develop a brand identity for the specialty apricots which were bred in New Zealand, after 20 years of research and development."

For more information:
Sharon Kirk
Hort Invest 
Tel: +64 21921246

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