Rumours kiwifruit post-harvest supplier EastPack is taking over kiwifruit and avocado operator Apata are being denied by EastPack CEO Tony Hawken.
“It’s complete news to me,” says Tony today.
In following up on an email sent to SunLive stating EastPack’s takeover offer would be announced today, Tony says he is aware of the rumour, but it is not true.
“I’ve heard these stories myself and no, not at all. I was told two weeks ago that we had taken them over. But no, not at all.”
On March 22 EastPack announced a $17.7 million profit before tax, interest and rebates, for the year ending December, 31 2011 up 44 per cent on the previous year.
The result means the grower-owned company will pay a 30cents per tray rebate, maintain investor share dividends at 15c per share, and reduce overall company debt.
The financial results follow EastPack’s February announcement that it increased 2011 returns to green growers by a further 10 cents per tray taking the average 2011 Orchard Gate Return per tray for EastPack green growers to $4.24 – amongst the highest OGR’s in the industry and above Zespri’s average of $3.72 per tray.
EastPack is also offering new and existing EastPack growers a 20 cent per tray reduction in packing costs for 2012 and a 20 cent cash rebate in 2012 and will not be charging for Class II reject fruit (both Green and Gold).
The lower pack prices are sustained through improvements in efficiency and reductions in operating costs, says Tony.
Tony says EastPack is in a strong and stable financial position going forward into 2012 and looking like having very good economic volume to enable that good financial performance to continue,
EastPack expects to pack at least 18.8 million Class 1 trays in 2012. Although less than last year’s record 21.3m volume, it is more than two million trays above its original 2012 crop estimate.
The increased crop volume is a combination of more kiwifruit growers choosing to pack with EastPack, productivity gains on orchards and an increase in trays of new varieties.
“In addition, the extent of crop loss as a result of Psa is not as high as initially budgeted – although Psa has had and will continue to have a serious effect on kiwifruit vines,” says Tony.
EastPack Chairman Ray Sharp says EastPack’s with its modern facilities, in a good position to ‘weather’ the downturn expected in industry volumes for 2013. EastPack’s $11m debt, which equates to 52c per tray, is low by industry standards.
“EastPack is focused on helping our Growers to achieve improved economic results for their business, by supporting them to grow a high yield of high value fruit, very careful picking and low packing prices by delivering a low reject rate, carefully handled product to our packhouses that can be efficiently packed and achieve good coolstore outcomes,” says Ray.