March 24, 2015

New Zealand apple harvest underway

As the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam is gradually assessed in their homeland, over 200 guest workers from Vanuatu focus their efforts to the Enza apple harvest.

Leading apple producer/marketer Enza, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is part of the Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Policy, which grants workers from several South Pacific nations such as Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa and Vanuatu employment opportunities in New Zealand’s agriculture industry to help offset the lack of local labor during harvest.

“It has been a very difficult time for our people from Vanuatu,” said Bruce Beaton, general manager, pipfruit. “Communications have been down, so it is taking time for families back home to be contacted and for everyone here to learn about the state of their property and the safety of their loved ones.”

The deadly cyclone slammed into the archipelago of Vanuatu on March 13, with damage caused by 155 mile-per-hour winds killing 24 and leaving a third of the population homeless.

Beaton notes that destruction is spread throughout the country, and once there’s a better sense of how to help, Enza brand owner Turners and Growers (T&G) will focus fundraising efforts.

“We are working to support the guys as best as possible here and will respond to the disaster once we know the outcomes of the families in Vanuatu,” he said.

Meanwhile, it is apple harvest time, and the opportunity to earn much-needed funds is welcomed by the RSE workers, Beaton observed. “Everyone is coping well. All have decided to stay as they realize the importance of earning as much money as possible. This will assist them when they go home.”

T&G markets apples and pears under the Enza brand via The Oppenheimer Group in North America.

“It is going to feel a little different when the apples arrive this season, knowing that some of the people who harvested them had been hit so hard by such a serious natural disaster.” said David Nelley, executive director of Oppy’s apple, pear and cherry categories.

Oppy anticipates the first New Zealand Taylor’s Gold pear to reach North America in April. Apples will follow, from year-round favorites like Jazz to popular up-and-coming varieties like Envy, Smitten and Eve.

New Zealand Royal Gala will appear from May through July, offering excellent fresh-crop pressures in this era of consumers who expect crisp fresh apples to be available year round. “The color and sizing created by a summer to remember in New Zealand is special this season,” Nelley said.

Of particular interest this summer will be several new varieties, the Velveteen pear and Tentation and Divine apples available in limited quantity.

Spring and summer provide distinct opportunities for differentiation at retail due to the novel and unique taste profiles of new varieties New Zealand successfully develops, Nelley said.

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