Leading New Zealand fresh produce software company, Radfords, has been announced as a focus customer with international business development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).
Chief executive officer Adam Cuming said the collaboration would drive and accelerate Radfords' growth from its traditional New Zealand base to existing and expanding markets including Australia, Europe, the United States and South America during the next five years.
"We've worked with NZTE for several years in a networking capacity. However, after sharing our ambitions for growth, NZTE has brought an intensive focus to provide specific market intelligence of our target markets to match our growth objectives," Cuming said.
"We need deeper insights into various global markets, fresh produce sectors and client personas to identify opportunities, build strong relationships and tailor innovation in our products.
"We need to understand the culture of the people we're partnering with and the nuances of how they operate to help them optimise their business which, in turn, drives our mission to grow the world's food basket. Understanding different market contexts will inform how we innovate our product to create the right value for that market. A relationship with NZTE is critical to accelerate that understanding."
Radfords already had a footprint in Australia and had identified a technology gap in the central markets' space where most wholesalers continued to manually record data, he said.
"A key difference in doing business with Australia, is that the domestic consumer market is far bigger than New Zealand's, which, in contrast, has a more finely developed export background.
"Approximately 1,500 Australian fresh produce wholesalers exist, many of which are vertically integrated. This aligns with Radfords' extensive knowledge and suite of products that provide full traceability along the supply chain.
"By reviewing year-on-year macro data for fresh produce, you can also see an increasing proportion of total sales moving to export markets where margins are higher for quality produce. This also plays well with our capabilities in matching inventory to various export compliance requirements."
Cuming said Radfords also planned to work closely with NZTE's Beachhead advisors - a network of private sector experts who offered perspective and insights to help customers shape the direction of their growth strategies.
"This gives us the opportunity to bounce ideas off professionals, many of whom have scaled up their own businesses. They can provide an honest critique of our strategy, identify gaps in our critical thinking and enable us to tighten up our strategy," Cuming said.
"In coming months, we'll talk to NZTE reps in Europe and South America to unpick fresh produce opportunities for Radfords there. Then, we'll liaise with Beachhead advisors in the technology sector who will support Radfords' plans to go global.
"At a very broad level, the United Nations expects food demand from consumers worldwide will double by 2050. It would follow that fresh produce will double at a faster rate because global wealth and consumer trends toward healthy food are accelerating.
"Most of this will come from emerging markets such as China where the burgeoning middle and upper classes are intensely invested in the provenance story.
"Many of these consumers value not only the quality of fresh produce but that it is safe to eat. To us, traceability from field through the packhouse process to outbound market is a critical part of that story. Fresh produce businesses will need to rely on a company that supports their processes through software. That's where we come in.
"Ten or 15 years ago, global consumer focus was on packaged consumer goods. Today's focus is on freshness and how well fresh produce satisfies quality standards."
Cuming said Radfords had "cut its teeth" on New Zealand's kiwifruit industry including deployment of its software products to all of the post-harvest sector that supplies Zespri International Limited's supply chain out of New Zealand, Italy, France, Korea and Japan. Radfords' diversification began 12 years ago with a foray into apples, glasshouse tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, citrus and, more recently, mangoes, pineapples, onions, squash and even organic chicken.
Radfords now has over 80 clients. Australian fresh produce clients include leading producers and technology adopters, Piñata Farms and Kirra Pines Farming, Queensland; Red Rich Fruits and Seeka Australia, Victoria; and Fruit Hub and Packing Station of Western Australia.
Founded by Phil Radford as a consultancy and software business in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, in 1989, Radfords Software Limited specialises in inventory and inventory-related software applications for the fresh produce sector. Radfords is the only independent software supplier to New Zealand's post-harvest kiwifruit industry. The Radfords team comprises more than 40 employees. Its software solutions are used internationally.