I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the lush, breathtaking lands of New Zealand first-hand. When I visited, it was before The Lord of the Rings trilogy was released, so the exchange rate was still pretty good, and the country’s popularity as a vacation destination had yet to reach critical mass. But while I was blackwater cave rafting and almost getting bounced off a galloping horse, T&G Global was bursting at the seams as it continued to grow into the worldwide produce powerhouse it is today. The company is passionate about all produce and grows and sells a vast array of fruits and veg—seriously, look at the website.
To say T&G’s list of produce offerings is extensive is an understatement. With roots that span the globe, T&G is uniquely suited to serve up top-of-the-line produce, picking the very best growing regions for each category. With that sort of reach, T&G has taken its humble beginnings and turned the company into a worldwide empire.
“Our story began in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1897, when Edward Turner started a fruit auction business, which went on to become the city’s largest,” Rachel Stotter, T&G’s Director of International Sales, tells me. “Today, T&G is a kiwi-based company with a global footprint, and we’re still keeping it fresh thanks to a team of dedicated growers, valued customers, and a passionate group of people around the world. We are one of the largest growers of fresh produce in New Zealand and one of the largest exporters of apples in the world, responsible for a third of the country’s annual crop.”
T&G’s global reach is a crucial aspect of its success—the company works with more than a thousand growers across the world. But it’s not just growers; T&G teams up with companies all across the supply chain, including Oppy, a company in which T&G holds a 40 percent ownership position. Carefully selecting partners from post-harvest, logistics, and sales sectors in both hemispheres, T&G is able to secure a year-round supply of the highest quality produce available. The company ensures consistency by setting and managing quality standards across the supply chain, from the orchard to the consumer.
“We have a passion for growing and a commitment to quality. We work closely with our growers across multiple continents to ensure we are producing the best-quality produce and are able to deliver it year-round. Our global footprint is a huge advantage—we currently export to around 60 countries and have offices in 13 countries,” Rachel comments. “We invest in our local sales teams, bringing us closer to our customers, and in marketing campaigns that have cut-through, increasing our in-market presence and driving growth in sales.”
T&G invests heavily in new categories and varieties, with a focus on technology and innovation. But although the company dabbles in endless fruits and veg, there are some categories that rise to the top, like the ever-popular apple.
“We maintain globally-exclusive growing and marketing licenses for several varieties of apples, and own the trademark rights for Envy™, JAZZ™, and Pacific Rose™. We have had international success with JAZZ and Envy, and we will continue to build on the success of those brands,” Rachel says. “In the U.S. market, Envy apples are experiencing the highest growth in the premium apples segment, a testament to our product quality superiority.”
“TODAY, T&G IS A KIWI-BASED COMPANY WITH A GLOBAL FOOTPRINT.”
Rachel Stotter, Director of International Sales, T&G Global
The Envy apple in particular has seen a surge in popularity, and in an independent consumer research survey completed earlier this year, it was named the most preferred apple variety based on its taste, texture, and appearance, Rachel tells me. For the past two years, the enviable variety was also ranked as U.S. consumers’ favorite apple in a competition run by the US Apple Association. With such a positive response, it is no surprise that T&G is doubling down on both its domestic and international distribution.
“We have a strong U.S. domestic program in place for apples, along with a successful export program for U.S.-origin fruit via our U.S.-based marketing team, T&G Global USA,” Rachel continues, noting that T&G varieties are sold by Oppy, CMI Orchards, and Rainier Fruit Company. “In the domestic U.S. market, both JAZZ and Envy have become well recognized premium varieties in retail. Envy is a popular apple in the U.S., and so supply growth is set to increase significantly over the next five years.”
As T&G increases its supply volumes of its Envy variety, the company continues to develop global market opportunities with a close focus on the U.S. and Asia. The company supports this growth by investing heavily in marketing, particularly with brand development and building consumer pull. The strategy has obviously paid off, as the Envy variety has experienced significant year-over-year sales growth, rapidly gaining traction in the premium apple category. T&G has an expansion plan in mind that will significantly increase volume of the popular new variety over the next five years.
If Envy apples are a hot, young starlet, JAZZ apples are seasoned actors—well known, always dependable, and beloved by multiple generations. JAZZ apples may not have any Oscars (yet), but it is a well-established variety with global popularity and hordes of brand loyalists drawn to the apple’s unique taste profile.
Both varieties are grown exclusively in Washington, which is suited to grow for the expanding organics market, and have been exceeding consumer demand for consistent, high-flavor, high-quality apples. With multiple all-star varieties in its corner, Rachel tells me that T&G is more than ready to meet growing demand.
“IN THE U.S. MARKET, ENVY APPLES ARE EXPERIENCING THE HIGHEST GROWTH IN THE PREMIUM APPLE SEGMENT.”
“As our brands gain distribution and are known and enjoyed by more people, we anticipate good growth in demand, fulfilled by our increase in local production and supported by import supply in the off-season,” she says. “The supply of apples continues to build globally with a constant array of new IP varieties emerging in markets. Markets will continue to evolve, and global trade factors will continue to influence market conditions and apple trade follows. We are well-positioned to continue to grow in the U.S. market, securing a 365-day supply and consistent high-quality fruit. We know we are on the right track. ”
Again, technology and innovation are at the forefront of everything T&G does as the company thinks outside the box and sets its sights on future growth. Aware of the effect the changing climate has on growing fruit, T&G has invested in Hot Climate Breeding programs, allowing it to grow and commercialize new varieties of apples that can withstand heat and unpredictable weather. The company consistently seeks out new methods to improve its products, recently enlisting its first-ever robotic harvester to assist with picking apples during this year’s harvest in New Zealand. The robot—or apple-bot, as I like to call it—enables T&G to meet increasing global demand, compensating for current and future labor shortages.
But it’s not all apples on the brain—remember, T&G has a remarkable portfolio of produce categories, and like its crowd-pleasing apples, the company has plans to expand its other offerings as well.
“While we have been exporting apples and grapes to Vietnam for some time, adding U.S. berries into the mix reinforces our presence in the market and allows us to leverage existing relationships. Soon, we will add U.S. grapes under our Orchard Rd. brand, targeting the fast-growing Asian markets,” Rachel tells me.
Expansion may be a key component of T&G’s operations, but equally important are the people involved, whether they are employees, growers, or customers. With such a long and storied history and a commitment to quality, it is inevitable that the company attracts others who are just as passionate about growing the best produce on the planet—a goal that Rachel tells me is built into T&G’s DNA.
“T&G IS A TRUSTED BRAND, BUILT ON A RICH HISTORY AND HERITAGE.”
“T&G is a trusted brand, built on a rich history and heritage,” she comments. “As we transform T&G into a fully integrated global business, we will continue to be a trusted partner, to have that ‘roll up your sleeves’ mentality, and a passion for quality. Our purpose is to ‘Grow healthier futures through fresh fruit and vegetables,’ and that sentiment is embedded in everything we do. Our people are integral in bringing that to life. Everyone who works at T&G Global is passionate about growing healthier futures, and we do that by living the T&G mindset of being grounded, resilient, open, and having a winning attitude.”
With that winning attitude, T&G has gone from a small New Zealand company to a worldwide produce maven, building a loyal following of partners and consumers, all while exploring new markets, technologies, and varieties. There’s much on the horizon for T&G, including a global grape and berry program expansion throughout the U.S. and Asia—but that’s a story for another time.
After talking with Rachel, I find myself daydreaming about my experiences with New Zealand, particularly its residents’ incredible zest for life and down-to-Earth warmth, now seeing the connection between T&G’s New Zealand origin and its passionate, dedicated ethos. But, more than anything, I could really go for an apple right about now.