Te Puke-based and NZX-listed Seeka has reinforced its position in the fresh fruit wholesaling sector with the re-branding and launch of its SeekaFresh business based out of Mount Wellington, Auckland.
The company’s longer-term goal to establish a greater presence in non-kiwifruit produce areas was initiated in 2017.
Last year the company agreed to buy Glassfields NZ, a fruit ripening and delivery business, giving it rights to import and distribute a range of tropical fruits including bananas and pineapples.
Seeka also launched a commercial planting programme for the Gem avocado variety in 2016 on some of its orchards. Other purchases beyond fresh kiwifruit have included the purchase of Vital Food Processors, makers of natural kiwifruit-based drinks.
The company’s portfolio now includes avocados, kiwifruit, bananas, lemons, melons, organs, pineapple and vegetables.
Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said the company is increasingly focused on “fresh” – supplying quality produce to help customers’ businesses grow.
“We are getting increased enquiry from more and more outlets and fruit growers wanting us to either sell to them or supply, including feijoas and passionfruit,” he said.
SeekaFresh’s ability to tailor delivery to specific customer needs is holding strong appeal for end users that include the food service sector, he said.
“For example given we are an avocado grower. If a customer requires larger-sized fruit, we can tailor a delivery specifically for them based on that. SeekaFresh is enabling us to become more market-focused and connecting our growers to their markets directly.”
Widening produce target market
A big part of Seeka’s produce outlet includes supplying fruit to small independently owned dairy type outlets, supermarkets and wholesalers.
Franks said the company’s banana brand Equapak was regarded as a high quality, sustainably sourced product, purchased through a farmer-owned co-operative in Ecuador.
The SeekaFresh venture is enabling Seeka to leverage off fixed assets in the company’s property portfolio. Franks said a banana-ripening facility can in turn be used for kiwifruit and avocado ripening when required, for example.
We are getting increased enquiry from more and more outlets and fruit growers wanting us to either sell to them or supply, including feijoas and passionfruit.”
– Michael Franks
“And we see plenty of opportunity for importing other types of fruit and produce in the future.”
The rebranding exercise includes the appointment of Verena Cunningham as general manager of SeekaFresh, bringing extensive experience from her earlier strategic role with fruit and vegetable company T&G.
“Verena’s wealth of experience and focus on quality produce brings renewed strength to a terrific team,” said Franks.
The move comes as Seeka works to position itself firmly in the post-harvest sector.
It has quit orchard land acquired through its $40 million T&G takeover last year, while also investing $18 million in the Northland post-harvest business last year near Kerikeri as the company angles to participate in significant increases in Northland avocado plantings.