World class orchard to market

World class orchard to market

EastPack provides post-harvest services for kiwifruit growers in all major growing regions in the North Island from Northland to the Hawkes Bay. A third of all growers in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry choose to pack their fruit with EastPack with its state-of-the-art packing and cool-chain infrastructure.

EastPack was established in 1983 when it was known as Rangitaiki Fruit Packers and now operates seven packing sites processing over 40 million trays of kiwifruit per year.

Although EastPack processes fruit from across the North Island, most of the fruit is grown in the Bay of Plenty region. The head office is situated at Washer Road in Te Puke.

In 2015 EastPack’s leadership team changed with Hamish Simson joining as Chief Executive Officer and John Loughlin was unanimously voted in as Board Chairman.

EastPack’s resilience and co-operative spirit have been tested over the years, including the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake, the kiwifruit market crash of 1992 and the PSA virus scare of 2010.

Most recently, the kiwifruit industry has had to respond to increased demand for packing capacity as fruit volumes rapidly increased, largely due increased production of the new Zespri Sungold variety.

EastPack is New Zealand’s only 100% grower-owned kiwifruit post-harvest service provider. Its structure enabled approximately $55 million worth of investment in packing and cool-chain infrastructure to manage a 63% increase in processed volume between 2013 and 2016.

EastPack’s multi-site business is expected to become more complex and the international competitive environment is likely to require efficiency gains to protect and grow the incomes of its grower shareholders.

Cooperative Business NZ Chief Executive Craig Presland met Hamish Simson on site at Washer Rd in June 2016.

Craig reports:

“EastPack has achieved an impressive 63% growth in volumes between 2013, when the business processed 24.5 million trays, to 40 million trays in 2016. This rapid growth has led to EastPack becoming the largest pick, pack and storage operation within the NZ kiwifruit industry and a key partner to Zespri.

“EastPack growers, who share in company profits through packing rebates and/or dividends, should benefit from the scale of this business which is able to reinvest significantly in plant and equipment, health and safety and quality assurance systems, and staff recruitment and training.

“EastPack operates within strong co-operative principles being wholly owned by its grower Members with annual distributions paid to its Members.”