Tuesday, 09 April 2024 08:25

Rockit all fired up

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Rockit chief executive Mark O’Donnell says the Hawke’s Bay apple company plans to double exports to around 200 million apples compared to last year. Rockit chief executive Mark O’Donnell says the Hawke’s Bay apple company plans to double exports to around 200 million apples compared to last year.

Snack sized apple business Rockit says it is fired up for a record 2024 season.

The Hawke’s Bay company plans to double exports to around 200 million apples compared to last year. It also aims to export all year round from New Zealand for the first time to an ever-expanding network of international markets.

“We have ambitious but achievable growth targets. Our aim is to become the world’s most-loved apple brand through our strong sales and marketing plan to help deliver a strong return for our growers following the challenges in 2023.”

O’Donnell says the company is more than doubling sales in key global markets – China, the Middle East, Vietnam and expanding into newer markets they haven’t traditionally supplied, such as convenience channels targeting 7-Eleven and Circle K in North America. It has also sold product into India, with the intention of securing a foothold in that huge market.

“Around the world, we’re seen as a brand with both attitude and a point of difference, through our innovative grab-and-go pack. We present differently to other fruit and to other apples. Our focus is on being a year-round FMCG product, rather than seasonal,” adds O’Donnell.

He says Rockit also engages with consumers in a refreshing and energetic way and to that end will shortly announce an exciting global IP partnership. In the past it has promoted itself in China alongside popular consumer brands such as Minions.

Rockit brand character Rocki is also proving popular with consumers overseas, while new family packs launched in Asia have been a massive success.

However, the last couple of years have been challenging after Covid hit at the peak of harvest which put enormous pressure on labour for picking and packing the company’s crop. Then came Cyclone Gabrielle last year, taking out a third of its apples.

“So, instead of a steady climb to this point of doubling our crop, we’re doing it all at once. And this will be the first year where we fulfil 12 months’ supply from New Zealand,” O’Donnell adds.

“We’ve achieved this by increasing plantings in New Zealand and increasing our distribution channels and shelf space in global markets.”

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