Tasmanian cherry exporter Reid Fruits is up for sale, with the business seeking expressions of interest from both Australian and international buyers.
In recent years, Reid Fruits has invested A$4.5m in its Jericho orchards, with another A$3m upgrade planned for its Huonville packhouse. Its orchards now span more than 136ha of cherries under cultivation, according to managing director Tim Reid, accounting for almost 10 per cent of Australia’s cherry industry.
“Reid Fruits has developed a phenomenal reputation in Asia for the quality of our cherries,” Reid said. “The business is now at a stage where we will grow two or three-fold in terms of production. Now is the ideal time for a new owner to come on board and drive the growth opportunities we have created.”
In 2017, Reid Fruits accounted for almost 20 per cent of Australia’s total cherry exports, and was the largest exporter of cherries to Japan, Korea, Thailand and India.
The expression of interest process should be finalised by late November, with the management team and staff to stay on board while 65-year-old Reid would expect a transition phase with the new owners, if the sale proceeds.
However, if a reasonable bid isn’t made, the business will keep operating.
“We will keep it going because the market growth opportunity for the entire industry is very good,” he said. “The demand for Australian cherries internationally is predicted to have an accumulative annual growth of 31 per cent for 2016-21.
“The market for high-quality, wonderful tasting fruit is already there. But the health attributes of cherries and their juice is only just being realised and that will create further opportunities for growth in the Asian market.”
Reid Fruits was established 161 years ago as an apple grower, and underwent significant changes in the 1970s when Australia lost access to the UK, when the apples were panted for the Asian market. In the 1990s, Reid Fruits diversified into cherries with its first cherry orchid planted in the Derwent Valley in 2000.
Reid himself has clocked 50 years in the industry, and now manages 20 full-time staff and up to 600 during peak season.
“We have a magnificent and highly-skilled team here at Reid Fruits,” he said. “The business is now effectively self-managed and it’s time that someone else stepped in to drive this exciting new phase of the company’s history.”