I’m very fortunate in my role to visit an array of suppliers and packers across many different categories of NZ’s amazing produce. It has been a real eye opener travelling the length of our beautiful country meeting operators of all kinds, all striving to do what they do faster, more efficiently… better.
I’ve seen our beloved furry, brown national icons zoom down multiple parallel lines so fast and furiously they become a blur. Pallets are stacked and formed in front of you as if you’re watching time-lapse footage of a skyscraper build.
I’ve seen neon globes of sweet citrus shoot about like a game of orange-hued Space Invaders - before being automatically pattern packed into cartons. I’ve watched crowds of disorderly apples fall into file courtesy of robotic arms, pallets of export fruit stacked and strapped without a human finger being laid on them and punnets of berries heat-sealed at speeds approaching jet-like. These are all solutions which we’re very proud to bring to market here at Jenkins Freshpac Systems.
On the other end of the spectrum I’ve also seen long green spears being exposed to strobe lights (like the world’s shortest disco) and the sweetest, plumpest strawberries being lovingly placed into their new (recyclable) PET homes amidst a chatter of local “goings on” and “he said, she said”. Not to mention root vegies being tumble-dried, cherries leisurely floating down lengths of PVC pipe and bi-colour table grapes co-mingling in biodegradable punnets… who knows what’s next?
From grower to packhouse to marketer and all the varying levels of vertical integration between, no ONE entity can rightfully claim to be the best across all facets of the horticultural business. Everyone has their strengths and it’d be a “fool’s game” to play outside of these. Don’t get me wrong, some come very close but, as the old adage goes “You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something to someone”. And, with that in mind, what are you striving to be? What is your something and WHO is your “someone”?
For mine, particularly as far as NZ export offerings go, our collective “something” is quality and our “someone” is the discerning buyer. Hitting global supply gaps is fantastic and churning out trays and cartons at huge speeds is admirable and, although fraught with risk (“The faster you go, the bigger the mess”), with the right partners and planning, it can pay off hugely. But these aspirations and different ways of doing things should never compromise quality.
The good news, from my humble experience, is that it appears no one underestimates the power of producing the BEST product they can across or most fertile land.
Collaboration, TRUE partnership, inspired innovation… and a whole lot of elbow grease. It’s the kiwi way.