Rockit apples

Rockit Global says a willingness to “do something different” has resulted in its “strongest season yet”.

The New Zealand-based company packed and shipped more than 75m of its snack-sized Rockit-branded apples over the 2021 campaign.

Rockit Global is forecasting orchard gate returns of around NZ$230,000 per hectare on mature orchards, with 33 per cent year-on-year growth in its overall bin volume.

Mark O’Donnell, chief executive of Rockit Global, said the company’s ability to innovate has helped it thrive.

“To see such a robust result among this year’s economic challenges is extremely exciting,” said O’Donnell. “As global consumer demand increases – and more Rockit trees are planted to meet this – we’ve implemented leading edge automation and artificial intelligence to meet our strong growth trajectory and reduce reliance on manual labour across all parts of the supply chain – which is also creating higher value, and more innovative roles for our people.”

New HQ delivers efficiency

One of the highlights for Rockit Global in 2021 was the opening of its newglobal headquarters in Hawke’s Bay. The purpose built 21,000m2 facility includes a packhouse, coolstores and offices.

O’Donnell said the site has made the business more efficient.

“We’ve packed and shipped 38 per cent more apples in less time than it took last year,” he explained. “In preparation for our 2022 harvest, we’re excited to be deploying the latest technology storage solutions in the packhouse that will keep our apples fresher for longer.”

Brand refresh a hit

Another major development for the company was the release of refreshed Rockit branding.

Julian Smith, general manager of global marketing at Rockit Global, said the contemporary and disruptive new brand has been a vital tool in growing its global consumer base.

“By focusing on digital and differentiated marketing with brand partnerships and cut through content that resonates with key markets, it’s exciting to see the Rockit brand disrupting the global commodity apple category with personality, attitude and energy,” Smith said.

“Since our new brand launched in June this year, we’ve seen over150m views on Tik Tok of Rockit content, increased our global social media following to over 200,000 followers – up from 17,000 in 2020 – and doubled direct to consumer sales on TMall, our online sales platform in China.”

The refresh was supported by high-profile brand partnerships with New Zealand cricket captain Kane Williamson, The Tiny Chef and PacMan (part of the Namco family).

“We’re encouraging millions more consumers to try something new, do something different and really Rockit, reflectingour position as a market leader in the healthy snack category,” Smith added.

Healthy outlook

Rockit Global is set to pack and ship over 300m apples annually by 2025. O’Donnell said the business is “laser focused” on driving continued global growth to keep pace with the expanding production.

“While we’re again expecting to face global shipping delays, rising freight costs, labour shortages and other challenges posed by Covid-19, it’s stilla truly exciting time for Rockit Global,” O’Donnell explained.

“There are new countries to access, hundreds of hectares of plantings to facilitate, both here and overseas as demand grows, as well as a further expansion of Te Ipu [global headquarters] earmarked for 2023.

“We are very proud of our results this year, which are a testament to the dedication of our talented, hardworking team and growers. We can’t wait to see what 2022 brings.”