In a year of supply chain and market challenges wrought by Covid-19, miniature apple company Rockit Global Limited is thankful to be celebrating one of its strongest seasons in memory.
The producers of the globally trademarked Rockit™ apple, who are currently shipping their final export containers for 2020, are reporting reassuring results in a tough market. Export volume and price targets for the year, which were set before the onset of the pandemic, have been met, with turnover up over 25% year-on-year.
Rockit Global, who last week released its latest 2020 season forecast to its grower partners, is forecasting orchard gate returns of NZ$1.84 to $1.92 per standard tube equivalent. In conventional industry metrics these equate to returns of around NZ$75 per carton and over NZ$225,000 per hectare on mature orchards.
Chairman John Loughlin puts the phenomenal result down to Rockit Global’s reputation for excellence, its expansion into new markets and the development of clever, compelling digital marketing campaigns.
“To have attained such a robust result in a very challenging season is extremely encouraging,” says John. “Our approach has been to find ways into new channels and territories – launching Rockit™ into Kuwait and India this year – and to roll out a suite of marketing initiatives in our biggest consumer markets, speaking directly to our customers in China and the Middle East.”
Those marketing campaigns saw 500 carefully chosen social media influencers work closely with Rockit™ to drive relatable content into the feeds of household shoppers – who were, by virtue of the pandemic, spending more time at home and shopping for groceries online. “Rockit™ has doubled its social media following in China and exceeded all its targets for the year in this market.”
John also notes that strong collaboration through the supply chain has helped bolster Rockit Global’s position. “A real sign of the quality of this year’s performance is that we are finishing the New Zealand supply season with exceptionally high demand. Now, we switch to supplying our markets with Rockit™ product that has been grown by our partners in the northern hemisphere.”
He says the success of Rockit™ on the global stage has also attracted New Zealand’s top talent to the team, which is headquartered in Hawke’s Bay. “We are fast becoming recognised as a leading apple company to work for. From our sales strategists to our marketing experts, our engineers to our innovation specialists and our colleagues in the orchard and packhouse, we really do have a dream team at Rockit Global.”
With this expertise in place, Rockit™ made a big play for the Indian market in 2020, partnering with Kiwi cricketer Kane Williamson ahead of the Indian Premier League cricket season. Williamson now carries Rockit™ insignia on his bat. “The potential for success in India is huge,” John continues. “Rockit™ is excited to begin carving out its own niche within the produce category there.”
India becomes the 28th country where Rockit™ is sold. The small, sweet miniature apples – a cross between a Gala and Gala Splendour, for which the company hold exclusive global rights – are grown in nine countries, including New Zealand.
Rockit Global has much to look forward to next season, too, with the opening of its state of the art packhouse, coolstore and office facility in Irongate, Hastings.
John believes Rockit Global will retain its strong position into the new year, with a capable team at the helm and a fully optimised business. “We are proud of our result, proud of our colleagues and growers who have worked hard for it, and poised for further growth in 2021, as the global appetite for our delicious apples continues to develop.”