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Heavy hitter joins fruit company

Heavy-hitting professional director John Loughlin is the Havelock North Fruit Company’s (HNFC) new chairman.

He is also chairman of Powerco, Tru-Test Corporation and EastPack and former chairman of Zespri Group, Prism Group Holdings, Firstlight Foods, Allied Farmers and Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers.

Directorships include Napier Port, Bay Venues and Augusta Capital, with former directorships AgResearch, Metlifecare, Toll NZ, New Zealand Meat Producers Board, NZ Lamb Company (North America) and Centralines.

In his executive career he was Richmond’s chief executive for five years, leaving in 2002 before it was taken over by Dunedin-based PPCS (now Silver Fern Farms) after a long-running hostile takeover battle.

With wife Kathryn, he established and owns Askerne Estate Winery. HNFC has exclusive rights to Rockit, a small apple variety achieving export success, marketed as a premium snack food. Sold in a plastic tube, the sweet-flavoured bright-red fruit is slightly bigger than a golf ball and has sold successfully in New Zealand, the UK, Italy, North America and Asia.

“I have a real passion for creating added value in the primary sector. New Zealand is about feeding the world and our future is with the high-end customer developing niche products, just like Rockit.”

The chairmanship was an opportunity to share his Zespri experience of building strong global demand.

Bay of Plenty angel investors familiar with the kiwifruit industry enabled HNFC to establish its new Havelock North pack house. Previously packing was done by Crasborn.

HNFC managing director Phil Alison said Mr Loughlin’s global food-industry experience would bring strategic direction to the business. Last week Rockit was a finalist in the inaugural ExportNZ’s ASB Exporter of the Year Awards.