Snacked-sized apple to be planted on New Zealand’s South Island

Image: Rockit Global

Rockit Global is expanding the production base for its proprietary apple offering.

The company expects a further 200ha of Rockit trees will be planted in New Zealand in 2023.

Production is set to spread to New Zealand’s South Island for the first time, with Rockit Global identifying suitable land and growers in the Canterbury and Nelson areas.

“With a thriving horticulture sector in both Canterbury and Nelson, it makes perfect sense to begin establishing a presence in the South Island,” said Rockit Global’s general manager commercial, Tom Lane.

“We’ve already begun the process of identifying some really great, fertile land, and some energetic, forward-thinking growers interested in diversifying their business by growing Rockit apples – and we’re on the lookout for more.”

The company is also seeking new partners in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, where the fruit is currently grown.

“We’ve already committed 100ha of new plantings across the (New Zealand) east coast in 2023, with our most significant growth in Gisborne” said Lane. “We started with 3ha there in 2020, we’ll have 105ha planted by the end of 2022, and we continue to seek new opportunities for growth in the eastern region.”

Lane said the new plantings would help Rockit Global meet its resiliency targets.

“Our growers are currently concentrated along the upper east coast, leaving us exposed to weather events in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay,” Lane explained. “We see the South Island as a logical move, and we’ll be looking to scale relatively quickly to around 150ha over the coming years.”

Rockit Global is evaluating opportunities to establish a Rockit Management Services (RMS) team to offer full orchard management options, as well as support and expertise for independent growers on the South Island.

A feasibility study into establishing a shared packhouse facility in Canterbury is also underway.

Fully mature fruit coming from the South Island is likely to be slightly smaller in size than the apples that are harvested in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.

“The countries we export to each have their own preferences when it comes to fruit size, so being able to deliver a range of sizes is very useful,” said Lane.

“We’re really excited about continuing our Rockit story in the South Island. Rockit is always learning, growing, exploring and innovating – and we’re thrilled to be bringing more out-of-the-box growers into the Rockit family. We see a very bright future for Rockit and can’t wait to share our southern-grown fruit with the world.”