A massive $50 million spend on new infrastructure and technology by one of the country’s largest kiwifruit packhouses is an example of the rising efficiencies in the industry seen as the shining light of the primary sector.
The company says revenues increased from $170 million in 2019 to $189.3 million on the back of a record 41.4 million trays of kiwifruit packed for its growers.
Chairman John Loughlin claims the results reflect growth despite the significant challenges of the past 12 months and says the company is well poised to deliver results for shareholders in 2021 and beyond.
"Eastpack is a volume business and packing a record crop provided scale to help deliver a robust financial result in light of the challenges of operating in the Covid-19 environment. This achievement is a testament to our team," Loughlin says.
“As the largest postharvest operator, we strive to remain close to our growers but deliver the efficiencies of a large organisation.”
He added that putting its people at the heart of the business, research and development and investment in technology have all featured high on the priority list.
Chief executive Hamish Simson says that operating as an essential business and bringing clearance testing inhouse, EastPack was able to continue to pack fruit for its growers – albeit under significant constraints.
“Our staff adapted quickly and worked through all the challenges, resulting in a successful year, packing a record crop at the same time.”
Simson adds that beyond Covid, East- Pack has been planning for the future challenges the industry will face for some years.
“These challenges are starting to manifest with the ramp up in gold volumes and labour shortages. We have planned ahead and invested early so we are one step ahead at all times,” he says.
“The global challenges of 2020 gave us the opportunity to view our business in a different light and develop new strategies to future proof our operations. With reduced availability of staff and the significant increase in labour rates, it is essential that the company improves productivity and efficiency of our current assets.”
Meanwhile, Simson says, from a staffing perspective, the 2021 season is looking to be as challenging as 2020 with borders firmly closed. However, he adds that EastPack has put several strategies in place.
“A recruitment drive to attract as many staff as possible, more flexible shifts, competitive pay and performance development opportunities for our permanent employees continue to be key to our business.”
Results at a glance
- Packed 41.4m trays of kiwifruit for EastPack growers(up 9% on 2019 volumes)
- Revenues of $189.3m (up from $170m in 2019)
- Net profit after tax of $12.9m (up from $4.7m in 2019)
- Earnings per share of $0.15c (up from $0.07 in 2019)