LeaderBrand Produce

June 2005
LeaderBrand Produce

The growing and processing of fresh cut and packaged salads for national sale through supermarkets, restaurants and fast food outlets.

LeaderBrand began in the mid 1970s when Murray McPhail, President, was a vegetable and fruit grower and supplier, with potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash and apples. The company has developed into 20 varieties of salad greens, broccoli, broccolini and wine grapes.

Branded, ready-for-sale products now include bagged Iceberg lettuce, bagged Romaine lettuce, fresh-cut packaged salads, bundles of broccoli and broccolini (sweet baby broccoli) and sweet corn.

The retail driver for these products is the trend towards quick meal ingredients for time-poor shoppers, always with the highest standards of food safety.

LeaderBrand invests heavily in technology, equipment, management systems and people to achieve a considerable point of difference and competitive advantage for its products and services. That point of difference against competitors has enabled LeaderBrand to put its name on produce which customer and consumers can feel confident about in terms of quality, safety, and consistency.

Some examples of how LeaderBrand has adopted new technology:

Introduction of ice packing technology to New Zealand for broccoli

Introduction of vacuum cooling technology to New Zealand.

Introduction and commercialisation of wrapped lettuce production to New Zealand.

Securing of plant variety rights for new crops.

Securing exclusive rights to recognised international trademarks.

Investment into low soil compaction of tractors.

Investment and development in innovative harvesting technology.

Featured product:

Fresh-cut and packaged salads

Mesclun Salad

Continental Salad

Crispy Salad

Cos Lettuce Salad

Cabella Salad (also available with dressing)

Ranchslaw Salad (also available with dressing)

Caesar Salad (with salad dressing)

The newly commissioned fresh-cut salad plant extends the range of LeaderBrand products to existing retail customers (Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarket chains) brings business opportunities in the food service and quick service sectors Subway and BurgerKing).

Salads have been processed in the major metropolitan areas, a long way from where the salad ingredients are grown. This means the product often lacks freshness vitality and shelf life.

LeaderBrand located its processing facility in the midst of its growing area. The company harvests from the field and transports the product directly to the processing plant, thereby ensuring the taste, nutrients and shelf life of the product are maintained.

Most salads currently available in the New Zealand market are processed by companies who buy in the majority of their salad ingredients. This means the quality of the product varies considerably. LeaderBrand is the grower and processor.

A major element of shelf life is how quickly the ingredients are cooled after harvest.

LeaderBrand is the only grower with an innovative vacuum cooling system to cool the product to 1-2 degrees C within two hours of harvest. This prevents deterioration in freshness, nutritional value, taste and vitality of the salad ingredients, which improves the shelf life of the salad for customers.

When dealing with fresh-cut salads the opportunity for contamination and microbiological problems is always present. LeaderBrands plant has been designed and constructed to the highest standard of food safety. Pressurised processing rooms of high, medium and low security are equipped with the latest in air filtration and food safety systems. It is a two level facility with no elevators, aiding efficient cleaning.

Some 20 varieties of salad greens are grown on the companys farms, picked in the morning, packaged in the afternoon and dispatched to retailer overnight. They are on sale only 24 hours after harvest.