Global demand for NZ cherries drives orchard investments

Emerging New Zealand horticultural investment company, Hortinvest Limited, is capitalising on an unprecedented global demand for premium New Zealand cherries to offer a range of investment opportunities in cherry and other orchard developments in the Central Otago region.

Founded in 2016 by experienced horticulturalists, Ross and Sharon Kirk, Hortinvest has established a high-tech cherry project at Cromwell since its inception. It now has another two $12-16 million, 80-hectare cherry orchard projects in Central Otago for which it is seeking investors.

"Hortinvest offers a fully integrated grower-packer-shipper model. We source land, establish and manage orchards and packhouses, and market and export premium cherries to maximise returns to investors," project and orchard development manager, Ross Kirk said.

Hortinvest orchard
Caption: A cherry orchard under development by Hortinvest in the Central Otago region.

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Cherry opportunities boosted by 'Brand NZ'

"Cherry opportunities focus on the distinct market advantages of producing in Central Otago including developing a counter-seasonal product for export at a time when the New Zealand cherry industry is growing exponentially, yet not meeting demand."

Export sales for New Zealand cherries have quadrupled in the past four years with more than 4,000 tonnes exported in the 2017/2018 season. Central Otago accounts for some 90 per cent of that.

Summerfruit NZ 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 New Zealand's key competitive advantages such as the ideal climate and conditions, proximity to, and free trade agreements with Asia," Mr Kirk said.

"As a Southern Hemisphere cherry producer, the New Zealand industry is not competing with produce from the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, our harvest from December to February is uniquely positioned to supply Asia (driven by the Chinese New Year appetite), Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

"Chile is the biggest competitor at our time of year, producing fruit from November to January. However, Chile focuses on sea freight with produce taking up to 45 days to arrive. Our produce is shipped by air and arrives fresh within days. Buyers know the difference and are willing to pay a premium."

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

"Now is the time for investors seeking new opportunities to become involved in a growing and exciting industry."

Strong returns projected after five years

Mr Kirk said Hortinvest's contracts were long-term (seven to 10 years) and required a minimum investment of $750,000 spread over four years.

"It costs between $150,000 and $200,000 per hectare based on a 40-80 hectare block, so there are obvious economies of scale. Investors can expect production to start three years after planting, with yield peaking at 18-20 tonnes per hectare as the trees mature," he said.

In March, the New Zealand Government released the Coriolis Report which investigated Emerging Growth Opportunities in the cherry industry as part of the wider New Zealand Food and Beverage Information Project.

It found the Southern Hemisphere was responsible for only five per cent of global cherry production yet generated 49 per cent of global value.

"Specifically, the Central Otago region's abundant land, water and soil resources offer significant potential for future horticulture development in a sector where new international markets are opening.

While the cherry industry was Hortinvest's focus due to high international demand, excellent returns and government support for its growth, other offerings included apricot, plum and apple projects, he said.

"Given the scale of these developments, the diversification of crops and markets is prudent. There is an opportunity to grow export markets in other fruits that haven't previously focused on export," he said.

About the Hortinvest team

Ross Kirk is a third-generation orchardist who has some 40 years' experience in orchard and packhouse development. He has recently completed developing and planting a 40-hectare cherry orchard in Tarras.

Marketing and sales manager Sharon Kirk has been involved in New Zealand's cherry industry since the 1990s. She has a degree in Horticultural Science and a diploma in Management, extensive experience in horticulture and export marketing and compliance. Both are well respected within the international produce arena.

Hortinvest offers a complete development and management package. Prospective investors should contact the team via the Hortinvest website.

Visit the Hortinvest website>


Located in Central Otago, New Zealand, Hortinvest Ltd is the leading consultant in New Zealand's emerging and highly profitable cherry and horticulture industry. Hortinvest employs world-leading orchard management and packhouse systems to produce and export premium New Zealand cherries.

(Issued: November 26, 2018)

Issued by Aqua Public Relations on behalf of Hortinvest Ltd. For more information please contact:

Ross Kirk
Project and orchard development manager
02 74845099

Toni Lucke
Aqua Public Relations
+61 7 3312 2505

Email Toni>