Tasmania’s largest cherry exporter Reid Fruits has been put on the market for sale.
The business has 136 hectares of cherries under cultivation and production at the southern-based company represents almost 10 per cent of the national cherry industry.
Reid Fruits, based at Plenty, accounts for close to 20 per cent of the total cherry exports and is the largest single Australian exporter into Japan, Korea, Thailand and India.
The business was established in 1856 with managing director Tim Reid involved in the business for the past 50 years. He started stacking boxes when he was 15-years-old and moved up the ranks to become managing director.
“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.”
Mr Reid said recent investment had seen $4.5 million spent at its new Jericho orchard, with a further $3 million planned investment in upgrading plant at the company’s packhouse facility in Huonville for the 2017-18 season.
“The business is now at a stage where we will grow two or three-fold in terms of production. Now is the ideal time for a new owner to come on board and drive the growth opportunities we have created.”
“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. The demand for Australian cherries internationally is predicted to have an accumulative annual growth of 31% for 2016-21.
“The market for high-quality, wonderful tasting 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.”
Mr Reid, who turns 65 this year, has been working in the industry for the past 50 years, since starting in Reid Fruits apple orchards stacking boxes as a 15-year-old schoolboy.
Reid Fruits has 20 full time staff, which swells to more than 600 people during cherry-harvesting.
The expressions of interest process is expected to be finalised on the sale in late October or November.
Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff congratulated Mr Reid on his contribution to the sector.
“Tim is a true legend of Tasmania's fruit industry, building Reid Fruits into a Tasmanian success story and an iconic local business,” he said.
“No doubt the decision to sell the business would have been a very difficult one for the Reid family however the fact there is such interest in the business already shows that there is strong confidence in the Tasmanian primary industries sector.”
He said if an overseas buyer wished to purchase the business the sale would be subject to a review by the Foreign Investment Review Board.