I’m currently in the States for a well-earned break away. I recently visited Hudson River Fruit Distributors (HRFD), a vertically integrated orchard company located near the Hudson River in the New York State, currently producing approximately 162 hectares of apples. This area still has a significant number of small family orchard growers and 99% of their apples are grown for local consumption.
HRFD do import some apples from NZ (Freshco), I saw a pallet of RG (Tenroy) in their cool store. Labour supply is not a problem for them, they have been sourcing their workforce from Jamaica for the last 30 years – this is how long their labour scheme has been in place, so way before our own RSE scheme. They are now employing the children of their first employees. HRFD are slowly re-developing their orchards into high density planting (3.5 – 1.3 – M9’s). Density planting systems such as 2D, Fops, or any other new planting systems is unknown to them. Most of the small family-owned orchard operations have multiple apple varieties planted. I encourage you to check out their website www.hudsonriverfruit.com if you’d like to learn more about their operation.
I recently went to see National MP for Taranaki, Barbara Kruiger speak in Hastings to hear about their policy on the issues our industry is facing. As you will be aware, our current govt are introducing major policy changes such as Three Waters, The Fair Pay Agreements Bill (FPA) and He Waka Eka Noa (the industry, iwi & govt Partnership to address climate change), our labour issues and RSE programme. It was good to hear that National would repeal Three Waters and the FPA (or at least as the bill stands now), and are totally understanding of the industry’s labour plights and would make sure we have enough RSE to harvest our fruit.
I would like to introduce Dean Smith, who has recently been appointed HBFA’s Business & Grower Engagement Manager. This is a diverse role which involves both the day-to-day management of the association and the coordination of a soon-to-commence pan-sector grower engagement project with cornerstone funding from MPI. We look forward to sharing more information about this project over the coming weeks/months.
Dean comes to us with senior leadership and broad commercial and business development experience. He has held management roles at both ends of the value chain with extensive export experience coupled with three years spent in mainland China where he managed procurement for a Chinese owned importer/distributor/retailer. He has worked in a variety of business models from family-owned start-ups to established private, public and listed companies. Since leaving university in the 2001, he’s worked across a range of industries including financial services, wine, wool, and aviation.
Dean holds a bachelor’s degrees in Commerce & Science from the University of Auckland and a Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln. Alongside his role with HBFA, he is currently completing a Masters in Sustainable Business through Otago University. Dean is a proud Hawke’s Bay local with strong connections to fruit growing in the region. His father was a third-generation orchardist, who was born and raised in Twyford before developing his own orchards and vineyards in Puketapu. Dean was raised on the family orchard and spent the bulk of his school and university holidays driving tractors, thinning apples, and pruning grapes.
In Deans words – “I’m excited about the scope of my role with HBFA and look forward to engaging with our growers to learn more about how the association can add value and build positively on its 123-year history”
Finally, please put aside Thursday 15th September in your diaries as this is our 123rd AGM. There will be more information on this shortly.
That’s it for me – I’ll be back at the end of the month.