A Family Business From the Ground Up
Building things that last has long been in the Thorpe DNA, though the road that brought Gisborne’s iconic grower to First Fresh started out in a less than rural setting.
Surprisingly Bill Thorpe, founder and Director of First Fresh, started his career waist deep in pantyhose working in the family business, Columbine Hosiery that has long been a household name.
Fortuitously in the early 70’s Bills father retired from textiles and embarked on a large horticulture development involving three Kiwifruit orchards, a Persimmon orchard and what remains today as Gisborne's largest Navel Orange orchard.
The family also developed Gisborne's first kiwifruit packhouse, packing and exporting their first kiwifruit in 1975.
In 1980 Bill decided to set up his own business establishing Thorpe Horticulture aimed at providing development services for large new plantings of kiwifruit, Persimmons, Satsumas and Nashi. Using experience gained from the family packhouse operation, Bill also supervised the construction of four new packhouses including NZ Fruits, now Gisborne's largest, in which he later became a shareholder.
During the late 80’s the logic of expanding the growing and packing activity into the marketing of Gisborne fruit and produce became obvious and Bill thus established First Fresh in 1989 ensuring the full "tree to trolley" concept was available.
Today, First Fresh works with approximately 150 local horticulturalists. Bill’s trailblazing loyalty to the region has been rewarded by his fellow growers – many of whom are second generation First Fresh clients.
Working with a diverse mix of Ma and Pa growers, lifestyle blockers and large corporate orchards, First Fresh has established a reputation for delivering outstanding support and technical advice, savvy marketing and an uncanny understanding of the wholesale marketing process.
Bill is still an active grower and, from tree to trolley, his decades of knowledge are always on hand. But Bill would be the first to tell you that First Fresh is bigger than one man.
Bill views First Fresh as a family company. That family is one he has built over many years and comprises of long serving staff, growers and customers. The value of a business lies in its people and at First Fresh the grower and client relationship is paramount - both are seen as stakeholders jointly shaping the future of this ground-breaking Gisborne business.
Top award goes to Ormond citrus growers The Galloways of Ormond won the supreme honour on top of two category titles at the “Freshies” growers awards for 2020.... read more > 1/15
Pick and Pack Persimmon crop numbers in the district are down this year due to the wet weather in May but the quality has been impressive, says First Fresh NZ managing director Ian Albers.... read more > 2/15
A taste of Gizzy in Aussie bikkies Australia might have claimed as its own the pavlova, manuka honey and the band Crowded House, but the oranges that flavour Arnott's new line of Tim Tam biscuits are officially ours.... read more > 3/15
Top Freshies gong for Hika grower "GO-to guy” and outstanding grower John MacPherson was crowned supreme winner at the annual First Fresh “Freshies” awards.... read more > 4/15
Izzy Elmers awarded First Fresh & Bill Thorpe Scholarship It was great to be able to announce on the night of the Freshies that we have awarded the First Fresh / Bill Thorpe Scholarship to Izzy Ellmers. Izzy is heading to Massey this year to study Horticultural Science... read more > 5/15
‘Statesman of the industry’ Gisborne’s Bill Thorpe and wife Margaret with the Bledisloe Cup, the top accolade presented at the Horticulture New Zealand annual conference in Hamilton last night. Mr Thorpe received the trophy in recognition of 40 years of “meritorious” service to the industry.... read more > 6/15
Citrus crop quality leaves a sweet taste The quality of lemons, mandarins and oranges coming off Gisborne trees in the annual citrus harvest has been “very good”, says First Fresh managing director Ian Albers.... read more > 7/15
First Fresh wins export award The room was filled with excitement and celebration at the Napier Conference Centre as the winners of the 2018 ExportNZ ASB Hawke's Bay Export Awards were announced.... read more > 8/15
Red carpet flavour at annual Freshies First Fresh held its second "Freshies" grower awards on Thursday 23rd February at the Dome Room and John and Irene Honey of Patutahi won the Supreme Award - The Freshies Trophy.... read more > 9/15
Law changes for use of Organophosphate insecticides LEMON, LIME, GRAPEFRUIT AND TANGELO GROWERS... read more > 10/15
Recipe of the month Summer and ice cream go together like … well, summer and ice cream. Add Encore Mandarins into the mix and you’ve got the recipe for a delicious hot day treat. This Rippled Mandarin Curd Ice Cream is delicious with a capital D, so give it a go, you don’t even...... read more > 11/15
First Fresh NZGAP Group Scheme A number of our growers have already taken up the opportunity to become members of the First Fresh Group Scheme for NZGAP. ... read more > 12/15
First Fresh Management Calendar and Checklist Access our latest Citrus Fruit Size - Management Calendar and Checklist... read more > 13/15
First Fresh Weather Station You can view the “First Fresh” weather station on line by using the following link:... read more > 14/15
Good persimmon season with increased exports to US One of New Zealand's leading persimmon exporters is expecting a good increase in volumes this season, due to additional plantings and existing growers increasing their acreage.... read more > 15/15