Changes for 2018 harvest

The Board of Directors of Walnuts NZ Co-op has decided that the co-operative will no longer be involved in the arrangement of drying services for growers. The board wants to see our staff time and resources focused on those tasks that growers cannot easily do themselves, namely processing and marketing. In contrast, drying of walnuts is a job that can practically be done on-farm. By focusing our efforts like this, we aim to maximise the value for growers’ crops.

This decision means that you will need to either:

  • make your own arrangements with a drying service – either as an individual or working as a collective with a group of growers who are using that service; or
  • build your own drying equipment – again, either on your own orchard as an individual grower, or working with nearby growers to set up a shared facility.

The co-op, along with the NZ Walnut Industry Group, aims to help you get set up with your drying arrangements for 2018.

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News from the factory

Our GM, Shane, reports to the board at our monthly meetings, covering operational matters at the factory, health & safety, and the previous month’s financial results. Items of interest include:

  • There is work underway on a new grading system for the 2017 harvest – details should be out to you soon. The new grading system should be robust and transparent from a financial audit point of view, and provide quantitative data to growers on the quality of their crop so the grower can see why a particular grade was given.
  • We are considering the purchase of a second cracking machine to enable us to deal with the high volume of walnut supply predicted for this coming year.
  • There has been work done at the factory to determine the costs involved in each of our products. A lot of data have been gathered and analysis is underway to help us understand which products are most profitable for us.
  • We are participating in a business evaluation and coaching programme called ‘Enterprise DNA’ run by KPMG, with funding assistance through Callaghan Innovation. This will help us identify and act on areas for improvement in our leadership, strategy, marketing, networking with other businesses, customer relationships and other areas.

Board strategic planning

The board met on 3 February for a strategic planning session to look forward over the next three years and develop goals for that period. Critical Success Factors were agreed on at themeeting.  We decided that for Walnuts NZ to be successful it must be especially good at thefollowing activities:

  1. Marketing and selling all our products to the most profitable markets
  2. Efficient processing
  3. Maintain the full support of our shareholders.

We analysed our strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, and decided on the following specific objectives:

  1. Walnuts NZ enjoys an engaged shareholder base as a result of being well regarded and successful. Growers become financially successful and enjoy participating in their industry and new participants are being attracted
  2. Financially successful
  3. Participating in high margin “Super Profit” market sectors
  4. Significant improvement in operational efficiency
  5. Build capacity to process and sell the increased supply volumes predicted in coming years
  6. Committed and stable management team.

We are still working on the details of quantitative ways of measuring our success in these areas.

Board strategic planning

The Co-op board has decided to hold its next strategic planning day in February. The board is very pleased with the way the first 18 months of trading has gone, and improvements to processes in the factory. The planning day will enable the board to chart a path for the business over the next few years. Current work on costing production, researching markets and options for improving efficiency will provide a sound basis for planning.