First Fresh News

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.

The gala event was held in a large marquee in the Food and Wine area at the Gisborne Showgrounds and more than 150 guests attended.

“The ‘Freshies’ awards are our way of saying thank you to our growers for their supply, loyalty and support over the previous 12 months,” said First Fresh managing director Ian Albers.

“It’s a night of celebration for all and it’s a night for rewarding those growers who have performed at the highest level.”

The special guest speaker for the night was Sir John Kirwan (JK).

“Sir John not only kept the crowd entertained with his presentation but it also tackled the serious issue of depression,” Mr Albers said.

“At one stage JK had us all up on our feet dancing and hugging five people we didn’t know, to demonstrate how a positive attitude towards life can fill your normal day with smiles and laughs.”

Best in Category Freshies were awarded across twelve different fruit varieties the company markets.

“There were a number of back-to-back winners from last year and a number of growers who were also finalists last year.

“Part of the prize pack for each grower was a vintage leather rugby ball signed by Sir John on the night, and they went down a treat with the growers,” Mr Albers said.

“What is always pleasing to see is new growers breaking into the top tier and there were a number of those this year.”

The Supreme Award winner was selected from the category winners.

“With four wins out of five nominations Clive and Amanda Lewis deservedly took out the Supreme Award taking home the solid brass Freshies trophy for the second time.

“They won the Supreme Award two years ago at the inaugural Freshies Awards and their performance across a range of crops, in what was a difficult season, was superb.”

Most improved grower

Other awards given out on the night included a new award for most improved grower.

“This was awarded to Niels Andersen for the work he has done improving the navel orange crop at the Dodgshun Orchard.”

The Outstanding Contribution award was won by Bruce Van Dorp.

“Bruce not only works tirelessly and performs outstandingly on the orchards he manages but he also goes out of his way to help other growers and he is a fountain of knowledge for the First Fresh team.”

Also an important part of the evening was a special presentation to Bill Thorpe, founder of First Fresh, who officially retired from the company in December last year.

“It was a perfect time for this presentation to take place as some of the growers in the audience had been with Mr Thorpe and First Fresh since the company’s inception.

While Mr Thorpe has retired from First Fresh, he still is actively involved in NZ Fruits Ltd and three large orchards.

“You haven’t seen the last of me yet” Mr Thorpe joked when addressing growers and First Fresh staff.

MG Marketing has purchased Mr Thorpe’s shares in First Fresh.

“MG Marketing is First Fresh’s largest non-supermarket customer in New Zealand and a company they’ve been working with for over 20 years, so they were a natural choice as the new shareholders,” Mr Albers said.

“The First Fresh team are hugely excited to have MG Marketing on board and we are looking forward to working with them.”