Rockit adds coveted NZIBA Supreme Award to recent haul

The trophies cabinet is getting pretty chocka at innovative snack sized apple company Rockit – and they couldn’t be happier about it.

Rockit took home the prize for Best Large Business and the coveted overall Supreme Award at last night’s glittering New Zealand International Business Awards 2022 – arguably the most prestigious awards event in the country, recognising Kiwi achievement in the competitive global marketplace.

Rockit’s CEO, Mark O’Donnell, was on hand to accept the award, telling industry leaders gathered at Auckland’s Shed 10 that the Hawke’s Bay headquartered company has had to adapt, revise, and remain resilient during some of the toughest times the world has seen.

“Fortunately, we’ve been able to rely on our incredible team and our unyielding enthusiasm to pull us through,” he says “and it’s paid dividends. With the commitment of our growers, the support of our investors, the quick thinking of our office-based teams, and compelling, clever marketing across multiple digital, social and retail touchpoints, we’ve continued to thrive, in spite of weather challenges and market headwinds.”

Judges commented that Rockit demonstrated good awareness of the risks faced by the business “and a deliberate strategic focus on managing issues such as maintaining consistency across different product sources. They’ve executed this so well that they can partner with big global brands and beat other apple products significantly, which is great evidence of success.”

Rockit – which is sold in 30 countries worldwide – is, in fact, amid a strong growth curve across its global markets, with 45 percent growth in total revenue last year (2020 vs 2021). China remains a priority for Rockit, as its largest and strongest market – the company experienced 25 percent growth year on year in the China region (2020 vs 2021) through sales campaigns reaching millions of consumers via both traditional and digital channels.

Unlike other commodity apples from New Zealand, Rockit™ apples are produced, distributed and marketed as a totally unique branded offering – and they really stand out from the crowd, Mark says. “Our ambition is to become the world’s most loved apple brand, and it’s this ambition that drives everything we do inside and outside the business. To reach our goal, we set the bar high in every aspect of how we operate, continuing to bring energy, new ideas and fresh innovation across every part of our value chain – orchards, packhouse, office and into international markets.”

He says the company’s commitment to excellence begins, literally, at ground level – with growers across New Zealand, and in the other countries with a license to produce the small, juicy, snack sized fruit, pulling out all the stops to create optimal growing conditions for their high value trees. “It takes a very long time to grow a little apple,” he says. “Of course, 2022 has thrown several curve balls at our East Coast orchards, with a number of weather events making it really tough for our growers. We’re remarkably proud of how they’ve tweaked plans and made adjustments through the ‘big wet’ we’ve experienced this year.”

Overseas, Rockit’s strength has been its storytelling capabilities, and continually finding new ways to market through partnerships and collaborations. “Examples include a recent campaign into China with the Minions movie, collabs with PacMan and Tiny Chef, as well as bringing on international cricketer Kane Williamson as Rockit’s global ambassador,” says Mark.

It’s these types of key marketing activities and activations that demonstrate just how committed Rockit is to bringing its healthy fruit option into a space traditionally occupied by processed snack foods. “We’re well on our way to carving out a loyal base of families around the world who, in line with our data-informed consumer insights, are likely to keep buying Rockit apples. Next year’s harvest is projected to be 100% up on this year’s, which just goes to show that the global love for the Rockit brand continues to grow.”

Rockit adds its two NZ International Business Awards to a list of other recent wins, including two Hawke’s Bay Export Awards, an Axis Award, gold at the Best Awards and Best Large Business at the China Business Awards earlier in 2022.

Steve Saunders, a Rockit board member of more than a decade, was also recognised last night at the 2022 Ngā Taumata Rau Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards as Te tohu Kairangi mō te Kaiārahi Pakihi Māori (Outstanding Māori Business Leader).

Mark says winning the NZIBA Supreme Award is a particular thrill for any Kiwi business. “To be recognised in this way by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is huge,” he says. “Not only that, it’s amazing to be acknowledged alongside such incredibly successful, often groundbreaking New Zealand companies.

“We’re delighted to be honoured with this award,” Mark concludes. “It’s testament to the huge energy and enthusiasm of our entire team across the globe, who dare to be different, always go the extra mile and consistently deliver excellence to the consumer.”


Media Release – 28 October 2022