Innovative New Zealand apple company, Rockit Global Limited is celebrating its strongest season yet, with forecast turnover up 45 percent year on year in a tough economic environment.
Global demand for its snack sized apples is continuing to grow exponentially, with the high-performing business this year recording 33 percent growth in bin volume, resulting in over 75 million apples being packed and shipped to consumers around the world. Rockit is also forecasting orchard gate returns of around NZD $230,000 per hectare on mature orchards.
Rockit global CEO Mark O’Donnell puts these impressive results down to a combination of the company ‘doing things differently’ on the global stage through innovation, backed by its disruptive new brand and great product: “To see such a robust result among this year’s economic challenges is extremely exciting,” says Mark. “As global consumer demand increases – and more Rockit trees are planted to meet this – we’ve implemented leading edge automation and artificial intelligence to meet our strong growth trajectory and reduce reliance on manual labour across all parts of the supply chain– which is also creating higher value, and more innovative roles for our people.”
He adds that Rockit’s expansion into its digitally advanced, purpose built 21,000m2 facility (packhouse, coolstore and global offices) – gifted the name ‘Te Ipu’ by local iwi Ngati Kahungunu – has been a worthy investment: “We’ve packed and shipped 38 percent more apples in less time than it took last year. And in preparation for our 2022 harvest, we’re excited to be deploying the latest technology storage solutions in the packhouse that will keep our apples fresher for longer.”
General manager global marketing, Julian Smith says Rockit’s contemporary and disruptive new brand has been a vital tool in growing its global consumer base: “By focusing on digital and differentiated marketing with brand partnerships and cut through content that resonates with key markets, it’s exciting to see the Rockit brand disrupting the global commodity apple category with personality, attitude and energy. Since our new brand launched in June this year, we’ve seen over 150 million views on Tik Tok of Rockit content, increased our global social media following to over 200,000 followers – up from 17,000 in 2020 – and doubled direct to consumer sales on TMall, our online sales platform in China.
“Through brand partnerships with Kane Williamson, The Tiny Chef and heavyweights, PacMan (part of the Namco family), we’re encouraging millions more consumers to try something new, do something different and really Rockit, reflecting our position as a market leader in the healthy snack category.”
Smith says that Rockit’s global success has also attracted New Zealand’s top talent to the team, headquartered in Hawke’s Bay: “We’re fast becoming recognized as a leading apple company which has seen our permanent staff grow by 29 percent over the past year, along with more than 600 seasonal staff. In 2021 we’ve bolstered our marketing, innovation, sales, finance and people and culture teams, along with our senior leadership team – appointing new general managers for our people and culture and commercial teams, and a new chief financial officer – to lead out our ambitious goals in 2022.
“With Rockit set to pack and ship over 300 million apples annually by 2025, the business is laser focused on the future and driving continued global growth. While we’re again expecting to face global shipping delays, rising freight costs, labour shortages and other challenges posed by Covid-19, it’s still a truly exciting time for Rockit Global. There are new countries to access, hundreds of hectares of plantings to facilitate, both here and overseas as demand grows, as well as a further expansion of Te Ipu earmarked for 2023.”
Continuing to leverage and build relationships in its global markets, while staying across local consumer trends to create great brand experiences – along with the introduction of consumer sensory testing – will be a key part of Rockit’s journey to becoming the world’s most loved apple brand.
Adds Smith: “We are very proud of our results this year, which are a testament to the dedication of our talented, hardworking team and growers. We can’t wait to see what 2022 brings.”