Jugos, bebidas, vinos y licoresAgo. 25, 2011
Productores muestran interés en entregar fruta para jugo
Nelson pipfruit growers are showing strong interest in growing more of their fruit to process for juice.
Desperate for cashflow after three consecutive years of poor export returns, which have seen many of them lose money, they are opting for Enzafoods’ grow for process plan, which offers a lower but quicker and guaranteed payout.
The company has been getting a steady stream of calls from growers, many of them first-timers, since holding a presentation at Upper Moutere earlier this month.
Enzafoods general manager Jack Sowerby confirmed it was receiving an excellent response to its offer, saying it was well ahead of the same time last year.
He expected the volume of fruit – much of it braeburn – signed up under the grow for process plan to match or slightly exceed this year’s total, which was the equivalent of 1.3 million cartons.
Growers who sign up early are being offered 18 cents per kilogram, 2c more than this season.
Mr Sowerby would not discuss the price, other than to say it was more than the 16c paid for whole blocks of fruit this year, and would be regularly reviewed. This later fell to 12c.
“It’s a good increase and it’s driven by the international price of apple concentrate, which is already starting to come back.
“The Chinese will start processing very soon, and their recoveries and production will dictate where we head later in the year.”
Those who committed early were – as usual – likely to receive more, he said. With pruning coming to an end and bud break not far away, now was the time when many growers were deciding what to do with next year’s crop.
Mr Sowerby acknowledged that much of the interest in growing for process was due to the financial bind many growers found themselves in.
The scheme appealed because it was a less risky and stressful option, he said.
Growers got a fixed contracted price for all their fruit, which was paid within a week of delivery.
“You don’t have to fight foreign exchange rates, and you are paid in New Zealand dollars.”
Such crops were cheaper to grow, requiring less input costs, and off-orchard costs were minimal, he said.
“You’ve got no packing, packaging and shipping – three major costs – or commissions to exporters.”
Greg Dryden, of consultants Fruition Horticulture, said growers could save two-thirds of their costs by growing for juice, because such crops required less spraying, thinning and harvesting, and there were virtually no post-harvest charges.
But it was still only a useful “stopgap measure”, because the processing price would need to rise to 25c per kg for it to be a profitable alternative to exporting.
At 18c per kg, it returned the equivalent of about $16 per carton, which was still below the average cost of production, he said.
Plenty of orchardists were likely to commit part of next year’s crop to juice, especially their blocks of lower-quality fruit, but he knew of none who would grow primarily for processing.
Those growers in “dire straits” typically had high interest bills, and the processing price would not be high enough to get them out of financial trouble, he said.
However, for others it would give them some cashflow and help to placate banks by easing overdrafts.
“It gives them some cash when they need it to pay picking and packing bills, and allows them to concentrate on their more preferred varieties and orchard blocks.”
Mr Dryden estimated that up to 20 per cent of the braeburn crop could end up being juiced. This was because it was a higher-producing variety which was more difficult to grow to the right size, and the processing price was only just below average export returns.
Mariri orchardist Simon Easton said his orchard was considering growing about 5 per cent of its crop – which totals about 160,000 cartons – for juice next year.
After another tough year, growers were looking at their options, and juicing gave a guaranteed return which was paid within a week instead of waiting more than six months if fruit was exported, he said.