Asia expo

The ex­port man­ager for Lead­erBrand Pro­duce is used to travers­ing the high­ways and by­ways of South­east Asia but the ad­van­tage of be­ing part of a trade fair, he says, is that the cus­tomers are all in one place.

NZ Grower - - CONTENTS -

Lead­ing brand tra­verses the by­ways of South­east Asia

To that end, Jeff Cham­bers and Lead­erBrand chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Burke rep­re­sented the com­pany in Hong Kong at the 2017 Asia Fruit Lo­gis­tica (AFL) show­case, join­ing 27 other Kiwi hor­ti­cul­ture busi­nesses in the New Zealand pav­il­ion.

“It's a huge ter­ri­tory both in pop­u­la­tion and di­ver­sity and each and ev­ery coun­try has its own mar­kets with dif­fer­ent rules and reg­u­la­tions,” Jeff says.

“You still need to cover that ground and make those con­nec­tions, but hav­ing a cen­tral point where cus­tomers from all over the re­gion can see what is on of­fer is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity.”

Leader Brand's big­gest ex­port prod­uct to date has been the but­ter­cup squash (kabocha) it sends mainly to Ja­pan and to a lesser ex­tent Korea, but Jeff says a rapidly grow­ing mid­dle class has cre­ated huge de­mand for food prod­ucts in the South­east Asia re­gion.

And af­ter in­vest­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in new pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties in Gis­borne, the com­pany has the ca­pac­ity to help ser­vice that mar­ket, both in reach and in the prod­ucts it sup­plies.

“There are a heck of a lot of mouths to feed and what they like about Lead­erBrand is that the pro­duce is grown, picked, packed and shipped by the one op­er­a­tion,” Jeff says. “It's that con­ti­nu­ity and qual­ity con­trol from pas­ture to plate that re­ally ap­peals.”

Due to its rel­a­tive prox­im­ity, Asia has long been a tar­get mar­ket for fresh pro­duce from New Zealand, but for the AFL expo Lead­erBrand chose to fo­cus on its long-life pouched

prod­ucts – Pure 'n Ezy Sweet­corn and the “su­per­food”, Pure 'n Ezy Beets.

Straight af­ter har­vest both prod­ucts are sealed and cooked in the bag and, with no ad­di­tives or ar­ti­fi­cial preser­va­tives, have a sta­ble 15-month shelf life.

Asian cus­tomers love the con­ve­nience, Jeff says, along with the knowl­edge that their pro­duce has come from “the best grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment in the world”.

“They also en­joy the lux­ury of hav­ing New Zealand-grown pro­duce re­gard­less of the sea­son,” he says. “And they don't need to re­frig­er­ate it.”

South­east Asia is an area fa­mil­iar to Jeff Cham­bers: be­fore tak­ing up the ex­port role at Lead­erBrand in early 2016, the United Kingdom na­tive had spent a dozen years mar­ket­ing for a South­land tim­ber com­pany, for which he cov­ered much of the same ter­ri­tory.

So he well knows that events like Asia Lo­gis­tica are just the start of a jour­ney, and it can take years to build on the con­nec­tions made.

“South­east Asia is a grow­ing re­gion for us . . . both Lead­erBrand and New Zealand,” he says.

“It is a mar­ket that de­mands great tast­ing, safe, qual­ity prod­uct and that is what we can of­fer.”

GROW­ING A LEAD­ING BRAND Lead­erBrand was founded in 1975 by Mur­ray McPhail who, though aged just 18 when his fa­ther died, soon took on the man­tle of buy­ing the fam­ily's farm at Wain­gake Val­ley, just out of Gis­borne.

From a small potato-grow­ing op­er­a­tion at that orig­i­nal prop­erty, Lead­erBrand now has farms in both Gis­borne and Ash­bur­ton where it each year grows around 3,500ha of pro­duce, em­ploy­ing 200 per­ma­nent staff, with an ad­di­tional 300 through the sum­mer har­vest.

In ad­di­tion to its key ex­port crop of but­ter­cup squash (kabocha), the com­pany grows, packs and ships broc­coli, let­tuce and sweet­corn for the New Zealand mar­ket; owns one of the coun­try's most mod­ern salad pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties; and sup­plies process crops in­clud­ing toma­toes, sweet­corn and pump­kins. It is also one of the largest Gis­borne grow­ers of Chardon­nay and Pinot Gris grapes.

The com­pany is now headed by chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Burke, while Mur­ray McPhail works on special projects >

and his sons Richard and Gor­don run the com­pany's pro­duc­tion and grow­ing op­er­a­tions (re­spec­tively).

NZ PRO­DUCE ON THE WORLD STAGE

In terms of ex­hibitor num­bers, New Zealand boxed above its weight with a strong show­ing at Asia’s “lead­ing con­ti­nen­tal fresh pro­duce show”.

Twenty-eight Kiwi or­gan­i­sa­tions were rep­re­sented at Asia Fruit Lo­gis­tica 2017 in Hong Kong and in­dus­try lead­ers say that will pay div­i­dends in the fu­ture.

“New Zealand’s an­nual fruit ex­ports to­tal nearly US$2 bil­lion and in the next few years that is pre­dicted to dou­ble,” says Mike Chap­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand which joined New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), NZ Ap­ples & Pears and NZ Plant & Food Re­search in supporting the New Zealand pav­il­ion.

“New Zealand fresh fruit is in high de­mand be­cause of our lo­ca­tion, cli­mate and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, and Asia Fruit Lo­gis­tica is a great op­por­tu­nity to show­case our fruit and veg­eta­bles to ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial Asian cus­tomers.”

Ki­wifruit and ap­ples re­main the ex­port stars in the Asian mar­ket but Mike says av­o­ca­dos, blue­ber­ries, cher­ries, toma­toes, onions and pack­aged veg­eta­bles are gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

Through plat­forms like the Hong Kong expo, NZTE hopes to help Kiwi com­pa­nies “estab­lish sound part­ner­ships and sup­port hor­ti­cul­ture busi­ness growth in Asia”.

But Asia Fruit Lo­gis­tica is not all about the pro­duce: ac­cord­ing to trade com­mis­sioner for Hong Kong and Ma­cau, Rachael McGuck­ian, hor­ti­cul­tural tech­nolo­gies and so­lu­tions too, are in hot de­mand.

Over­all, the three-day event was judged to be a re­sound­ing suc­cess hav­ing at­tracted more than 13,000 trade vis­i­tors from 76 dif­fer­ent coun­tries (an in­crease of 16% on the pre­vi­ous year), pri­mar­ily China, Hong Kong, In­dia, Tai­wan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sin­ga­pore, New Zealand, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia.

Ex­hibitor num­bers too, were up, the 813 from 43 coun­tries rep­re­sent­ing an in­crease more than 150 on the 2016 trade fair.

China re­mained the sin­gle largest ex­hibit­ing coun­try fol­lowed by Italy, Egypt, Aus­tralia, Spain and South Africa, whose tally of 33 ex­hibitors was just five ahead of New Zealand's strong show­ing.

The New Zealand com­pa­nies and or­gan­i­sa­tions ex­hibit­ing at Asia Fruit Lo­gis­tica 2017 in­cluded Avanza, BBC Tech­nolo­gies, Ber­ryCo, Bo­s­tock NZ, Com­pac, Fern Ridge Fresh, First Fresh, Food­view, Freshco, Fresh­max, Golden Bay Fruit, Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand, JP Ex­ports, JR's Or­chards, Lead­erBrand, Mr Ap­ple NZ, Mt Erin Group, NZ Cherry Corp, NZ Ap­ples and Pears, Plant & Food Re­search, Pure Pac, Ripetime, Te Mata Ex­ports, Toma­toes NZ, T&G, Val­leyfresh NZ, Yummy Fruit, Ze­spri In­ter­na­tional.

◀ South­east Asia is a grow­ing mar­ket for both Lead­erBrand and New Zealand, says Lead­erBrand ex­port man­ager Jeff Cham­bers.

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