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.
Supreme freshie for second time MATAWHERO fruit growers Clive and Amanda Lewis deservedly took out the supreme award at the third annual First Fresh “Freshies” awards recently with four wins out of five categories in which they were nominated.... read more > 1/15
Orange harvest in catch-up mode THE district’s navel orange season is running well behind due to the impact of wet and cooler weather during the run-up to harvest.... read more > 2/15
First Fresh Persimmons New Zealand’s first export of persimmons is set to leave for China after a 12 year effort to gain market access concluded successfully this week. Gisborne-based exporter First Fresh will send the trial shipment of Gisborne persimmon next month following approval from China’s quarantine authority AQSIQ.... read more > 3/15
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 > 4/15
Gisborne Encore Mandarins - make summer sweet ADVERTORIAL: While other citrus has come and gone by the time you’ve got your togs out and are hitting the beach, Gisborne Encore Mandarins are just coming into their own.... read more > 5/15
Gisborne tops NZ's citrus production A grower survey conducted by New Zealand Citrus Growers Incorporated has confirmed that Gisborne is the number one citrus growing region in the country — by a long way. The NZCGI “snapshot” survey indicates there are 330 citrus growers in New Zealand with more than a million citrus trees and...... read more > 6/15
First Fresh take silver award First Fresh and our marketing-communications agency Tracta won a silver award at the New Zealand Direct Marketing Awards for our company's grower loyalty scheme campaign."Our Loyalty Recognition Agreement (LRA) is unique to the citrus industry and was developed to recognise the loyalty shown to us by our suppliers," said general...... read more > 7/15
Law changes for use of Organophosphate insecticides LEMON, LIME, GRAPEFRUIT AND TANGELO GROWERS... read more > 8/15
Recipe of the month Ingredients... read more > 9/15
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 > 10/15
First Fresh Management Calendar and Checklist Access our latest Citrus Fruit Size - Management Calendar and Checklist... read more > 11/15
First Fresh Weather Station You can view the “First Fresh” weather station on line by using the following link:... read more > 12/15
First Fresh Citrus Crop Protection Programme Hot off the press is the 2014/15 copy of the First Fresh - Citrus Crop Protection Progamme.... read more > 13/15
Market Gardeners Limited acquires shareholding in First Fresh NZ Leading New Zealand supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables, Market Gardeners Limited, trading as MG Marketing (MG), and leading New Zealand Citrus Marketing company First Fresh NZ Limited (First Fresh), are pleased to announce that in late December 2017, MG acquired a 30% shareholding in First Fresh.... read more > 14/15
The Bill Thorpe and First Fresh Scholarship First Fresh chairman Bill Thorpe (pictured here with wife Margaret) announced that he and the company are offering an annual $5000 scholarship for horticulture study, open to First Fresh supplying growers and their families. “After more than 40 years in the industry and nearing retirement I want to give something...... read more > 15/15