Freshmax "positions for the future" with Prime Harvest takeover

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Freshmax "positions for the future" with Prime Harvest takeover

The Freshmax Group has acquired a majority stake in California-based Prime Harvest, in a bid to shore up its produce supply chain to Australia and New Zealand while creating new opportunities for Australasian exporters.

Freshmax Group CEO Tony Mahoney told the move would help improve imports of U.S. fruits such as grapes, citrus and cherries, while helping year round supply of intellectual property varieties from Australia and New Zealand to other markets.

"For Freshmax we’re trying to expand very softly into the Northern Hemisphere - we have a lot of imported products into Australia and New Zealand out of California, and we want to ensure that our supply chain is more rigorous from the source," Mahoney said.

"We want to make sure we’re getting the best supply out of the regions, that we're buying at the right price with our quality control procedures all in place, and are controlling our supply chain to our customers in Australia and New Zealand in a far more efficient manner.

Prime Harvest itself is focused on export markets in Canada, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

"We also see this as a key strategic position for supplying into the Northern Hemisphere as well," Mahoney said.

"What we’ve done as a company is we’ve invested heavily into intellectual property, and the intellectual property we own in Australia and New Zealand, for example in citrus and apples, we wish to reverse trade that product so that the Northern Hemisphere customer is getting the same intellectual property produce for the Southern and Northern Hemisphere seasons, and it’s a seamless transition of quality supply."

The company has rights to several University of California varieties, particularly the seedless mandarin series with the Tango and Gold Nugget, as well as several pome fruit varieties.

"In the apples in New Zealand we’ve got one of the marketing and production licenses for the Kanzi apple, and the new emerging Crimson Snow apple.

"We have quite a stable, which also includes the Angelys pear out of New Zealand.

"Customers are being provided with those varieties out of the Northern Hemisphere, and our aim is to provide those same customers out of the Southern Hemisphere, so it’s really a multi-point strategy."

Mahoney said the move was part of "positioning for the future" in many ways for the supply chain, including for a potential opening up of U.S.-Australia stonefruit trade.

"We want to be well positioned for when the protocols open up for U.S. stonefruit into Australia – we currently have stonefruit into New Zealand but the protocols aren’t open for Australia yet.

"That’s a two-way street; we want to be ready to export stonefruit from Australia into the States, and at the moment we’re not allowed to.

"The Australian government says it could be one, two or three years we believe it will more a near medium term than long term."

Previous Prime Harvest owners Scott and Pam Jones will remain as shareholders in the San Joaquin Valley-based company, which will continue as an operational business.

"We see ourselves as a major component in the group’s international growth strategy into the future. We have a successful framework for providing existing and new customers’ quality product in key categories," said Scott Jones, who is general manager.

Freshmax began in New Zealand in 1995 but its head office is now in Sydney.

Photo: Freshmax

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