Quality, range the key to marketing apples
New Zealand’s rapidly expanding apple production has an export market provided it is of top quality, says the Apple and Pear Marketing Board’s retiring manager of its European Operations, Mr Neil Guymer.
“That’s the heartening thing. There is a market for top quality fruit but no market for rubbish,” he told Hawke’s Bay pip-fruit growers at a farewell function last night in Hastings.
About 150 growers and their wives farewelled Mr Guymer and his wife Mary in the board’s coolstore named after him.
The president of the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association, Mr Colin Wake, made a presentation on behalf of growers.
The Hawke’s Bay regional manager, Mr Tony Cross, said: “The sound financial heart of the fruit industry has been based more than anything else on the proﬁts made in the European market.”
Last year Mr Guymer managed the marketing of more than 70 per cent of the country’s exports of apples and pears.
This year they will be managed by his successor Mr Brian Aitken, a former manager of the Hygrade Packaging Company in Hastings.
Mr Guymer said: “I have had my run and now hand the baton over fully conﬁdent that the challenges ahead, and there must be some, will be met with the same tenacity in the future as they have been in the past.”
He said he believed the board’s marketing strategy had paid off and would continue to do so.
The board had found that even with its sale of about ﬁve-million cartons in Europe and the Middle East last year that the market was not saturated.
There was an oversupply of ordinary apples in the world with thousands of tonnes of the EEC’s production fed to pigs or dumped, he said.
“There is a full supply of reasonable quality fruit but a shortage of good-quality fruit,” he said.
During his time in Europe since 1959 as assistant manager and manager since 1971 he regularly told growers to improve fruit quality, widen the range of varieties and hold on to Europe.
“They were the three gospels preached and you heeded them.
“You have improved quality but you cannot stop because everyone else is improving theirs.
“You have widened the range of varieties to now have the widest range of commercially interesting varieties in the world.”
And New Zealand was now the third largest supplier of Southern Hemisphere pipfruit in Europe. South Africa was the largest followed by Chile a “whisker” ahead of New Zealand, then Argentina and Australia, he said.
Mr Guymer was to leave Hastings today for Nelson to say farewell to growers in the county’s other major pipfruit growing region.