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Tasmania’s Stories

Cherry pioneer says it's time

Edition 186_Tim Reid ...time to step off the treadmill

Australia's biggest cherry grower and biggest cherry exporter, Reid Fruits, was offered for sale in July by Expressions of Interest.

Managing Director, Tim Reid, 64, is looking to retire after a stellar career reinventing a family apple farm to create the present booming international business and playing a lead role in opening Asian doors to horticultural exports from Tasmania.

Reid Fruits has 136ha of cherries under cultivation, with current production representing almost 10 per cent of Australia's entire cherry crop.

The business accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the nation's cherry exports and Reid Fruits is the biggest Australian cherry exporter into Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and India.

“Reid Fruits has developed a phenomenal reputation in Asia for the quality of our cherries,” Mr Reid said.

“We have our main orchards in the Derwent Valley and in recent years have developed a late-harvest, 36ha orchard at Jericho, which includes 4ha of orchard under a retractable roof.”

The company has recently invested $4.5 million in the Jericho operation and is planning a $3 million upgrade of its packing facility in Huonville.

“The business is now at a stage where we will grow two or three-fold in terms of production," Mr Reid told the ABC.

"Now is the ideal time for a new owner to come on board and drive the growth opportunities we have created.”

Reid Fruits celebrated its 160th anniversary in 2016.

Mr Reid has dedicated 50 years of his life to the business after starting as a 15-year-old schoolboy stacking boxes part-time in a Huon Valley apple shed.

"My wife and I have reached the stage of life where we think there are other things we'd like to pursue, a bit of time to ourselves. We've worked very hard for a long time.

"There comes a time to step off the treadmill, and I think, for Deborah and I, it's really good timing now," he said.

The Reids have four daughters, but Mr Reid said "the girls have all pursued their own careers and they're happy with their own lots in life."

Mr Reid was named AM in the Order of Australia and Australian Export Hero in 2007 and Australian Farmer of the Year and Australian Rural Leader of the Year in 2013.

He worked tirelessly in the 1980s and 1990s to overcome Asian barriers to Tasmanian horticultural products, travelling as a focussed and popular member of several State-organised trade missions to North Asia, as well as making many of his own visits.

He oversaw two reinventions of Reid Fruits during his 48 years in fulltime employment.

"In the 1970s we lost the UK market and planted new apple varieties for Asian markets," he said.

"Then in the late 1990s we transitioned our business to cherries, moving into the Derwent Valley in 2000 with our first cherry orchard.”

He told the ABC he was proud of the contribution the overall cherry industry was making to the Tasmanian economy.

“The amount of money the cherry industry brings into and invests in the State is significant … through agricultural merchandise, packaging, engineering services and farming services … and for the majority, the money we earn is reinvested in the continued growth of our businesses,” he said.

Mr Reid expects the EoI process to be finalised in November and said a buyer could emerge from anywhere.

"China's a possibility, but I think if there's a foreign investor it's more likely to come out of the UK or Europe; North America," he said.

If an overseas buyer prevails and the price is above a $15 million limit the deal will need Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval.

It's unlikely the business would fail to attract bids over the FIRB threshold.

“If we don’t get a reasonable bid for the company, we will keep it going because the market-growth opportunity for the entire industry is very good," he said.

"The demand for Australian cherries internationally is predicted to have an accumulative annual growth of 31 per cent for 2016-21.

“The market for high-quality, wonderful tasting Tasmanian fruit is already there.

"But the health attributes of cherries and their juice is only just being realised and that will create further opportunities for growth in the Asian market.”

Ernst and Young, who were involved in the sale of the Kidman cattle empire to Gina Rinehart and her Chinese partners, will broker the sale.

"If we don't get a reasonable offer for the business, we'll look at restructuring the management level, my level, looking at a new CEO and we'll continue the business on for God knows how long," Mr Reid said.

Tasmania's biggest berry business, run by the Costa Group, was also placed on the market in July.

Chairman Frank Costa, 76, said: "We don't have what I would consider the correct strength in the family coming on to take over such a big organisation now. So you've got a decision to make and it's best to make it when you're in control and you're still able to do things as required and we think the timing is pretty good right now."

The Costa Group, whose extensive national fruit interests include citrus production in the Murray-Darling, has expanded its berry cultivation in north-west Tasmania in recent years, acquiring existing operations and increasing plantings of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Mr Costa said the market for fresh fruit was growing, particularly in Asia, and the company was in a strong position.

Image courtesy of Reid Fruits

1 August 2017, Edition 186

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

Brand Tasmania

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