NZ: T&G to make first Enza Red commercial shipment to Australia

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NZ: T&G to make first Enza Red commercial shipment to Australia

New Zealand-based fruit company Turners & Growers (NZX: TUR) plans to send its first commercial shipments of the Enza Red kiwifruit variety to Australia this year, where the company is not required to sell through a collaborative marketing agreement with Zespri. Enza Red

T&G CEO Alastair Hulbert told the fruit would be sent exclusively to one Australian supermarket chain, but he could not say whether it would be Coles or Woolworths.

"It'll go probably in May or June. There is small production at the moment, around 30,000-50,000 trays or tray equivalents," he said.

Click here to know more about T&G parent company BayWa's (DE: BYW) strategic plans for the future.

He said the company was looking at a good crop set for its propietary varieties starting in May, particularly for Enza Gold.

"It's[Enza Gold] all pre-sold into the Australian supermarkets for this coming year.

"As part of the collaborative marketing system in New Zealand, we did a lot of trialing with Zespri in other new gold varieties that are coming out of New Zealand; sensory testing, storage testing, consumer-based testing.

"Our Gold came out very favorably on an equal basis with G3 (Zespri SunGold) and the traditional Hort16A Zespri variety (Zespri Gold), and we've learnt a lot over the last few years in how to store it, market it and transit it. We're taking that to new levels every year."

The core business

Outside of Australia, he said the main markets for Enza Gold were the U.S. and South Korea, while some fruit would be sold to Thailand as well. The South East Asian country has also been positive for the company's Jazz apple brand.

"Jazz is going from strength to strength in Asia, especially in Thailand. We had a very successful program into China last year as well; that's a little bit difficult difficult because New Zealand doesn’t have direct access at the moment.

Last year the New Zealand industry voluntarily cut off exports to China after some fruit - not from T&G - was intercepted due to rot caused by the fungus Neofabraea alba.

"It could be that the Chinese are coming down. They're auditing the systems of the New Zealand industry. It'll be about middle of the season but hopefully we’ll get access, which won’t be too bad for Jazz because really we don’t start shipping until May or June."

The variety has also proved popular along with another trademarked apple Envy in North America, where Hulbert sees promising prospects in 2014.

"We start with Jazz and then Envy comes after. Envy of course just completely oversold in Asia and North America – we don’t have enough fruit to meet demand.

"Crop size this year is going to be extremely big, so that’ll put more emphasis on the U.S. market."

T&G CEO Alastair Hulbert

T&G CEO Alastair Hulbert

He said while the New Zealand apple crop is slighly lower this year, good sizing would likely lead to similar results in terms of values this year.

"We'll be a week to 10 days ahead in the timing of the season. There was some hail damage early in January, but given the sizing and everything, it really won’t have a huge impact.

"We’re going into still fairly good markets in the U.S. and Europe; the U.K. is still a little bit slow for some commodity varieties, but for varieties like Pink Lady and Jazz it’s strong."

As part of a recently announced long-term corporate strategy, Turners is aiming for a target of 20 million apple cartons annually by 2022.

Grape plans

In terms of the strategic table grape division, where T&G's German parent company BayWa has slated plans for a joint venture in South America, Hulbert said there would be movements in growing new varieties.

"Currently the biggest component of our program is through Peru, where we've been shipping grapes from for 10 years now - we probably ship probably about 1.5 million cases of grapes out of Peru.

"We’re looking at investments in Peru in the future in seedless varieties, because traditionally Red Globe has been a big variety out of Peru, but seedless has come to the fore. The U.S. and Europe have really shifted to seedless varieties, and Asia will follow.

"Then we have a Chilean program as well, then California and South Africa, and we’ve been in Australia as Delica for many years."

He said this translated to almost having a 12-month, continuous grape supply, with about 80% going to Asia. More recently, strikes in Chile meant Turners could not load the South American country's grapes for its New Zealand retail program for three weeks.

"That put a big gap in our retail program there, so that definitely has had an impact. Then there’s the catching up, the backlog of fruit and the deterioration of fruit quality."


Another product highlighted by Hulbert was blueberries, sourced from a range of countrie and yielding good results for Turners.

"We’ve got our own production in New Zealand as well as working with growers we’ve had a long time, and we’re shipping out of Chile, and the U.S., into Asia," he said.

"Korea has just opened access to Chile, and right now we’re shipping about 66 pallets a week of blueberries to Korea out of Chile, so that’s been fantastic.

"Hopefully Korea will follow the Japanese story of 10-12 years ago when fresh blueberry consumption just took off."

He said part of the challenge in Korea would be educating the consumption of fresh blueberries, given the market has traditionally been focused on frozen product for use in processing areas such as baking.

"It's really about educating our business customers, and then enabling them to educate the final consumer about how to use a blueberry."




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