Craigmore commences organic kiwifruit conversion in Te Puke

Two newly-purchased orchards will convert to organic status over the next three years

Our New Zealand-controlled horticulture business – Craigmore Permanent Crop Partnership – received approval last month from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for the purchase of two orchards in Te Puke (in the Bay of Plenty region), Mapua 11.26 canopy hectares and Wainui 9.63 canopy hectares.

The purchase was to enhance Craigmore’s sustainable business strategy for kiwifruit. These two properties, along with an earlier purchase (Angus), will be the second tranche of orchards under Craigmore management, that will convert to organic status over the next three years. We will invest $3.0 million in orchard development, increasing exports and generating a further 6.5 full time jobs, both on-orchard and in the supporting network of pack houses, transport operators and other market logistics services. We purchased these orchards with a development focus; they all had good structures in place that could be improved upon with potential for growth on site.

Grafting will shortly commence at Mapua, to convert 5.42 hectares to Gold (G3) organic kiwifruit. Wainui has grafted 1.56 hectares to G3 kiwifruit, and at Angus 3.3ha of the green Hayward has also been grafted over to G3. The decision to convert to Gold (G3) is to take advantage of the high yield and export price for the G3 variety. The investment in these properties and the change in management practice will add value to both the New Zealand economy and environment.

Green and gold kiwifruit

The decision to convert to organic management on these properties is based on a long-term view of the market demand for kiwifruit, and sustainability of production from these orchards. We regard development of our land as a privilege and a responsibility and converting to an organic strategy is the perfect fit for a company that is based around long-term, sustainable farm management. Managing land, soils, water and other natural resources is vital for the sustainability of our New Zealand environment and is a core business objective for Craigmore. Conversion to organics ties in well to our three environmental sustainability principles:

• To grow healthy and safe food
• Protect and enhance biodiversity, soil and water
• Minimise risk from use of chemicals

In the Bay of Plenty, Craigmore is in partnership with local kiwi-owned businesses Trevelyan’s and EHC, to ensure we are part of the local community, sharing a vision to enhance the safety, skills and job satisfaction for everyone involved in our business.

To actively support our local communities, and prior to taking control of the Mapua orchard, Craigmore, Trevelyans’ and EHC organised a volunteer harvest of kiwiberry that was not fit for export. There was a lot of insect damage resulting in downgraded fruit – but rather than let the fruit go to waste, it was distributed by the team to several charity foodbanks. This sort of activity doesn’t cost any money but takes time and effort to pull together. We enjoy being visible in and giving back to our local communities.