Global natural health products company Comvita has acquired the apiary business of Hawkes Bay Honey in Hastings, to strengthen its supply of Manuka (Leptospermum) honey. Comvita has also successfully completed Phase 1 of their Apiary Management System (AMS), a propriety tool that enables greater control of the expanding apiary business network including full traceability of honey supply right back to individual hives.
Comvita CEO Brett Hewlett said both the acquisition and the timing of the AMS Phase 1 completion are key indicators of the scale Comvita is building in honey supply.
"We’re building our honey supply capacity towards our strategic objective to own 50% of our own supply of honey. The primary advantage of ownership of supply is the mitigation against continuously escalating costs of Manuka honey charged at the ‘farm gate’. Year-on-year cost increases of Manuka honey have been the greatest contributor to the supressed and volatile reported earnings for Comvita. We are evolving our business model so that we have much greater control over volume, quality and traceability of honey we purchase."
- Hawkes Bay Honey
"Hawkes Bay Honey has 3,000 beehives located throughout the Hawkes Bay region and will provide Comvita with additional security of supply of Manuka honey as well as becoming the sixth regional branch for Comvita’s wholly owned apiary business. We already operate apiaries in the key geographic regions of Northland, Waikato, Gisborne/East Coast, Wairarapa and Whanganui."
"We are on target this year to have in excess of one third of our total honey supplies from our 100% owned apiaries. The balance of our supply will come from long-term contractual agreements and partnership arrangements, which we value highly. Honey supply partnerships with Comvita involve a long term supply contract as well as access to significant knowledge of Manuka plant propagation. This is in addition to volume and value enhancing apiary production methodologies which we have built up over nearly 40 years."
Mr Hewlett said Hawkes Bay Honey has been a valued supplier of high quality Manuka honey to Comvita for more than six years. Current owner, Jonathan Wroe will be employed by Comvita to manage Comvita’s Hawkes Bay region apiary operations. The acquisition purchase price is confidential.
"We’re looking forward to meeting our new land owner partners and building a strong and enduring relationship. We believe this apiary business has significant potential to grow and expand in the region and will benefit from Comvita’s substantial resources in Manuka honey production."
- Apiary Management System (AMS)
Mr Hewlett said, "Comvita’s proprietary AMS has been developed to support the operation and management of the apiary business and will allow us to further advance our traceability system for honey production to world leading standards."
"Our hive numbers have doubled in the last two years to 23,000 operating from six regional branches employing 70 staff with the plan to grow to 30,000 hives in the next two years."
AMS will enable improvements to better hive management and provide support to key areas of the operation.
Mr Hewlett said that Phase 1, Extraction Management, saw AMS deployed at the Kerikeri, Waikato and Whanganui Extraction Plants and completed in time and within budget for the 2013/14 harvest.
"Deployment included installation of specialised equipment, training and standard operating procedures for all branches and the AMS Extraction application is now actively being used by Comvita teams to view production data, plant output and inventory."
"The apiary tracking phase will then be fully deployed in time for the 2014 spring build-up."
- Honey season
Mr Hewlett also commented on the honey season, saying areas that have had settled summer/spring conditions like Northland have had a reasonable honey flow resulting in an average crop. Some areas in New Zealand however experienced overall lower temperatures during January that resulted in lower than average crops.
"It is climatic conditions that have the biggest impact on honey harvest. There has been much media hype about the impact of the Varroa mite and colony collapse but the apiary management practises adopted by Comvita mean that these biological threats are not a major issue for us here in New Zealand. There are more bees and beekeepers today in New Zealand than there have ever been in our history and we have the ability to increase hive numbers quickly. Colony collapse as experienced in the USA and Europe over many years does not exist in New Zealand and we don’t regard it as a credible threat to our business."
Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith is setting his sights on becoming a World champion after successfully defending the Golden Shears Open shearing title in Masterton.
The 27-year-old, the TAB favourite who grew-up in Northland, was a man possessed as he hammered the opposition in the six-man final and beat runner-up, second-favourite and four-times winner John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, by more than two-and-a-half points.
The 2010 Golden Shears and World champion, Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, was third, creating the event’s third Hawke’s Bay trifecta in a row, and meaning that no one from outside Hawke’s had been in the first two since the last win by King Country icon David Fagan in 2009.
Smith’s win gave him the first of two New Zealand machine shearing positions at the 16th World Championships to be held in Gorey, Ireland, in May, the second being decided in Te Kuiti on March 29 when Smith will be also defending the New Zealand championships Open title. He'd previously twice just missed-out on selection.
The two-metre giant with the sweeping long-blow Smith set a bold pace in front of a crowd of over 1000 equally onto the pace from the start, with big support for sole first-time finalist and Pongaroa farmer David Buick, potentially the host region’s first winner of the event in its 54-year history.
Smith disrobed the first of his 20 ewes in 43 seconds, but Kirkpatrick hit the front over the last five, finishing in 17min 0.139sec, with Smith next 11 seconds later, ahead of the fast finishing Ferguson and 2006 winner Dion King of Hastings, and then Buick.
The first five were separated by just 32 seconds, with another half-minute to the last-man off, near perennial final battler and Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford, whose perseverance at the top level was, however, rewarded with the biggest win of his career in the PGG Wrightson National Circuit final, shorn earlier in the night.
Another big winner was 22-year-old Joel Henare, of Gisborne, who successfully defended the Golden Shears Open woolhandling title, and won a World Championships New Zealand team selection trial final, enabling to go to Ireland in May to defend the World title he won in Masterton in 2012. Second and also headed to Ireland was 2008 Goilden Shears Open woolhandling and Kimbolton farmer Ronnie Goss, mother of New Zealand women’s Sevens rugby captain Sarah Goss, who already has a World title to her name as a footballer.
Hastings shearer Dion King has drawn first-blood among the Open-class stars at the Golden Shears in Masterton by winning the event’s first in-stadium Speedshear.
King, among the favourites to win the 20-sheep Golden Shears Open final on Saturday, yesterday shore a two-tooth ewe carrying about 2.2kg of wool in 24.7 seconds, to beat fellow finalist Darin Forde, of Winton, by just four-hundredths of a second in the Speedshear final front of about 500 people in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium.
The 2006 Golden Shears Open champion, he is the World nine-hour lambshearing record holder, with a tally of 866, shorn in 2007. Forde once set a nine-hour ewe-shearing record of 720, and the third placegetter, New Zealand-based Irish shearer Ivan Scott, holds the eight-hour lambshearing record, with a tally of 744, shorn in 2012.
King won $1000, Forde $600, Scott $400 and fourth semi-finalist John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, $200.
The big surprise was the quarterfinal elimination of veteran Te Kuiti shearer David Fagan who, having won about 10 other speedshears this summer, was more than three seconds quicker than the next-fastest in the heats, when his 27.6sec was the only time under 30 seconds.
Golden Shears Open championship favourite Rowland Smith, of Hastings, did not compete in the Speedshear, a short version of competition shearing most commonly seen as a pub sport.
Southland shearer Brett Roberts, of Mataura, won $500 as Senior Speedshear winner, with a final time of 29.1sec. Runner-up Kane Kapene, of Martinborough, shore 29.82sec in their showdown. South Island-based Masterton shearer and first-year senior Ethan Pankhurst had his event’s fastest first-round time but was eliminated at the next stage.
The Speedshear was a warm-up to tonights real action, including the Golden Shears Open and Senior championship heats.
More than 150 mainly younger shearers, woolhandlers and pressers are today embarking on the road to possible glory in the World’s biggest wool industry and sports festival as the 54th Golden Shears international championships begin in Masterton.
Some will compete in all three disciplines, raising to more than 200 the number of entries in the heats of the first-day novice, junior and intermediate shearing championships, novice, junior and senior woolhandling, and the woolpressing.
Their events are among more than 20 that will be decided over the three-day championships in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, where the "Shears", or "Goldies" as they are affectionately known in the fraternity, were first held in front of sell-out crowds in 1961.
Competitors have come from at least eight overseas countries for the biggest of the 61 events on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar.
The competitors include the Australian national shearing and woolhandling teams which will contest the Masterton leg of a bi-annual home-and-away transtasman series, in which the first test at Euroa, Victoria, was heldt 40 years ago this year.
The glamour event is the Golden Shears Open shearing championship, for which the favourite is Northland-raised, Hastings-based defending champion Rowland Smith. It culminates with a six-man final on Saturday night, in which the World’s fastest shearers are expected to each shear 20 second-shear sheep in under 18 minutes.
The fastest time in the event was King Country icon David Fagan’s 15min 27.4sec, shorn in 2003 when he won the 14th of the record 16 titles he won in the event from 1986 to 2009.
The championships open with an air of expectancy that the 52-year-old’s Golden Shears legacy is not yet complete, with Fagan rated by the TAB third on its order of favouritism after five wins in provincial competitions this season, taking him to 625 wins worldwide since his first Open-class competition in the Spring of 1981.
A stunning quarterfinals elimination last year, he has a second major opportunity also as top qualifier for the PGG Wrightson National Circuit finals, incorporating the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown which was first presented in 1973 as a means of deciding the country’s top shearer over all wool types.
The best six will on Saturday night each shear 15 sheep, comprising merinos, halfbreds, longwools, lambs and second-shears, with Fagan having already won the final nine times, from 1986 to 2008.
Most finals are on Saturday, with the final night programme also including the 30th Golden Shears Open woolhandling championship, for which the favourite is the youngest person ever to win a Golden Shears open shearing or woolhandling title, reigning World champion Joel Henare, 22, of Gisborne.
The winner of the Open shearing final will be the first of two machine shearers chosen to represent New Zealand at the World Championships in Gorey, Ireland, in May, while two woolhandlers will be decided in a Saturday-afternoon trial culminating a year-long , 10-show selection series.
The second shearer will be decided in the New Zealand championships Open final in Te Kuiti on March 29, and two blades shearing representatives will be named at the end of a qualifying series which ends at Fairlie in April.
Hastings shearer Dion King added even more spark to the Golden Shears mix when he completed a weekend of upsets by winning the Pahiatua Shears Open today(Sunday).
King, 37, had competed only sparingly this season and hadn’t won any event since October 2012.
But, beating all of the other top hopes for shearing’s biggest event next Saturday in Masterton, King showed he’s in the right form to qualify for an eighth Golden Shears Open final, go one better than when runner-up last year, and to repeat the win he had in 2006.
Today’s victory meant the three TAB favourites for the Golden Shears - defending Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, of Hastings, Napier shearer and four-times winner John Kirkpatrick, and Te Kuiti icon David Fagan - were all left without a win in the weekend’s big three pre-shears events..
On Friday, Te Kuiti shearer Marg Grainger had his maiden Open-class victory in the Taumarunui Jamboree Shears Open final, beating Fagan, Kirkpatrick and Smith, who were second, third and fourth respectively.
On Saturday, Smith and Kirkpatrick were second and third respectively as Pongaroa farmer David Buick successfully defended the Apiti Sports title in Northern Manawatu.
Today, Smith and Kirkpatrick were second and third, again, followed by Southland hope Nathan Stratford, Buick, and Fagan.
With 16 Golden Shears Open wins to his name from 1986 to 2009 and still a real winning hope at the age of 52, Fagan is as enthralled as anyone about the contest emerging in Masterton, where the winner will also claim selection for the 16th World Championships, to be held in Gorey, Ireland, in May.
"Anything could happen," said Fagan, who did, however, still manage to claim one winning cheque during the weekend, with a Saturday night Speedshear victory at the Cheltenham Hotel, between Apiti and Feilding.
There have been a couple of surprises in the Open shearing and woolhandling finals at the Taumarunui Jamboree Shears yesterday.
The big upset came in the shearing final when Mark Grainger, of Te Kuiti, scored his first Open final win - beating five other finalists who have won more than 900 events between them.
Runner-up and fellow Te Kuiti shearer David Fagan had scored more than 50 wins before Grainger was born, the son of 1985 Golden Shears champion Paul Grainger.
Fagan has had a total of 625 wins, third-placed John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, has won more than 200 Open finals, and reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand open champion and Hastings shearer Rowland Smith, who was fourth, recently passed a milestone of 50.
The fifth and sixth placegetters, farmers David Buick, of Pongaroa, and James Fagan, of Te Kuiti, have also won open finals.
Smith, Kirkpatrick and David Fagan are the TAB’s first three favourites to win next Saturday’s Golden Shears final in Masterton.
The Open woolhandling final provided a return to winning form for 2008 Golden Shears champion Ronnie Goss, of Kimbolton. Among the beaten finalists were 2008 World champion and Taihape schoolteacher Sheree Alabaster, while Keryn Herbert, of Te Awamutu, failed to match the form of two big wins in the South Island over the last fortnight and did not qualify for the final.
Most of the top shearers and woolhandlers compete today (Saturday) at the Apiti Sports in remote Northern Manawatu, while the shearers complete their Golden Shears preparations at the Pahiatua Shears tomorrow and the woolhandlers hone-up at the Pre Shears Championships at Massey University's Riverside Farm, north of Masterton, on Wednesday.
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