Investor bids for cherry orchards being processed

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Applications for investors wishing to be part of two multimillion-dollar cherry developments in Otago are being processed.

Cherry investment firm Hortinvest had sought expressions of interest from investors for a $15.5million orchard project on an 80ha site at Mt Pisa, near Cromwell, and another similar-sized venture, the $15.5million Lindis River development on 80ha of Lindis Peaks Station.

Another cherry investment led by Hortinvest, the Tarras Cherry Corp project, has already been planted and is expecting to harvest its first crop during the summer of 2020-21.

Hortinvest project and orchard development manager Ross Kirk declined to say how many applications were received for the Mt Pisa and Lindis River projects, but there had been "significant" investor interest domestically and

Mr Kirk said Hortinvest had extended its "self-imposed expressions-of-interest deadline" to May 31 to accommodate investors who needed more time to comply with financial regulations.

The first planting of the 106,000 trees for the Mt Pisa and Lindis River developments is set to begin in June.

Mr Kirk said both projects included orchard infrastructure and packing, and focus on exporting premium-quality cherries.

He said earlier this year the investments were to meet "an unprecedented global demand for premium cherries".

Under its vertically integrated grower-packer-shipper model, Hortinvest retained all services in-house, including sourcing land, establishing and managing orchards and packhouses, and marketing and exporting produce, Mr Kirk said.

He said cherries were a high-value product with proven markets, specifically the Chinese New Year market, which applied in various countries. There was also "enormous growth potential" in new markets such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Europe and the US.

Mr Kirk said earlier this year that Hortinvest hoped to deal with any possible staff shortage issues by long-term plans to develop "an accommodation and labour hire model" that would support its projects.

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