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Matthew Jones

BY MATTHEW JONES

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New name in NZ cherries

Horticultural consultancy Hortinvest to manage Deep Creek Fruits operation in Central Otago

New name in NZ cherries

Stage 1 cherry trees under cultivation at the Mt Pisa development

Image credit: Aqua Public Relations

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Two large-scale cherry developments in New Zealand’s Central Otago region will be consolidated under the new entity Deep Creek Fruits.

Established by the team at horticultural consultancy Hortinvest, Deep Creek Fruits is seeking wholesale investors to fund its next phase of expansion. The capital raised will be used to purchase up to 164ha of land at Mt Pisa Rd and Lindis Peaks Station on Deep Creek Rd to develop cherry orchards.

The investment opportunity came about after the landowners expressed a desire to diversify from sheep and beef into cherry production and take advantage of a surging global demand for New Zealand cherries.

"The landowners have taken a big-picture view to collaborate and consolidate these projects," said Sharon Kirk, marketing and sales manager Hortinvest.

"Investors will benefit from economies of scale to be achieved through the combined orchard development and the sharing of risk."

Stage one planting last winter resulted in 12ha planted at each location. Stage two, scheduled for this winter, would complete 83ha at Mt Pisa and 36ha at Lindis River, with potential further planting at Lindis River next year. In total, 58,000 trees are set to be planted this year.

Deep Creek Fruits will send its first premium quality cherries to the global export market in the New Zealand summer of 2021/22. Cherries will be harvested from December-February and take advantage of the growing global seasonal and Chinese New Year market.

"Summerfruit New Zealand predicts a 40 per cent dollar value growth in New Zealand cherry exports over the next 20 years. New Zealand's cherry industry has demonstrated strong long-term growth, driven by our key competitive advantages such as the ideal climate and conditions, proximity to, and free trade agreements with markets in Asia,” said Kirk.

“New Zealand's reputation for producing premium quality cherries, perceived globally as a luxury product, enables it to receive the highest price per tonne in global markets.”

Board of directors appointed

Deep Creek Fruits has appointed a board of directors to report to investors on the progress of the development. The board has been appointed for an initial fixed term of up to five years. 

Kirk will serve as a director alongside George Collier, a chartered accountant and registered farm management consultant who has extensive experience within the agricultural and horticultural sector. 

Michael Ambrose, an experienced director, business consultant and chartered accountant, has been appointed independent chair, a role he will formally take up following the successful completion of the offer. Ambrose has provided advisory, strategic and governance support to companies involved in a variety of industries in New Zealand and overseas. A fourth director will be appointed by 30 September.

Creating jobs for Central Otago

The development will create 15-20 jobs during Stage two planting this winter and a range of full-time positions including orchard and administrative positions over coming months.

The orchards will be developed and managed by a related company of Hortinvest, which is an expert in orchard development and management, packhouse management, marketing, sales and export. 

Ross Kirk, orchard development manager of Hortinvest,  said for the first harvest, 15-20 picking staff would be required, with those numbers increasing as progressive plantings matured. 

"Up to 500 pickers per 80ha will be required at full mature production from 2025 onwards. This is in addition to the seasonal staff required for pruning," Ross Kirk said.

Potential investors have until 16 July to purchase partnership interest shares in Deep Creek Fruits. 

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