‘Overgrown cottage industry’ celebrates 50 years and share their recipe for success

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‘Overgrown cottage industry’ celebrates 50 years and share their recipe for success

BARKER’S OF GERALDINE: 50 YEARS PRESERVED BY MICHAEL BARKER
Mary Egan Publishing, 01 November 2019, hardback, RRP: $60.00

‘Michael is truly passionate about working with customers to develop new products and bring innovations to market; he is always listening and learning. Today, whilst I operate my global baking empire of some 25 businesses spread across many countries, I remain loyal and use Barker’s Jams and Chutneys in my retail product line and continue to use Barker’s Lemon & Passionfruit Silk and Premium Quality Fruit  Mince Filling for our Christmas mince pies, a true testament to quality, innovation and consistency . . . Barker’s have truly helped shape the Australasian baking industry.’Dean Brettschneider, The Global Baker

Barker’s of Geraldine is the remarkable story of a pioneering New Zealand family, who turned a tiny corner of their farm
into a cottage industry that grew like topsy to become a major food producer.

Celebrating 50 years in business this year, Barker’s was founded by Anthony Barker and his wife Gillian in 1969. Together, from humble beginnings, they put people before profits and created a strong, viable, values-based company. The first product they launched under the Barker’s brand was their elderberry wine, which was a huge hit and from here they diversified into full-scale fruit wine production.

Anthony Barker was a born tinkerer and a tireless innovator, who, in typical Kiwi ‘number eight wire’ fashion, converted the most unlikely home appliances into winemaking paraphernalia! One of his greatest achievements, outside the Barker’s business, was to invent what became the Kent (Barker) Log Fire, the royalties from which helped to keep the company afloat during challenging times.

One of the hardest decisions Barker’s made was to stop making fruit wines in favour of creating a fruit ingredients and bakery fillings business. After a steep learning curve and some lean years, they successfully launched their first major brand – Barker’s Blackcurrant – and shifted from being a modest cottage industry into a prominent New Zealand food producer and export business.

Barker Fruit Processors have always aspired to excellence and at five-yearly intervals have benchmarked their business against the best. They won the Supreme Award at the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards in 2009 and 2014 and in September 2019 were winners of the Producer / Manufacturer Award at the Westpac Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Business Champions Awards. And they are the only business to have ever been a Category Winner three years in a row at the NZ Food Awards.

Barker’s process a lot of New Zealand produce for NZ provenance label claims and export over 20% of their production, mostly to Australia. Barker’s are leaders in many grocery and foodservice categories and also supply  processed fruit products in bulk to large Bakery and Dairy manufacturers. Their focus on innovation has yielded steady compounding growth averaging 11% per annum over the past 25 years. They employ over 220 staff, making them the largest employer in Geraldine and a significant employer in the South Canterbury region.

The Barker’s family credit much of their success to their business ethos of innovation, determination, risk-taking and investing in people. They credit the people of Geraldine and those around them, who shared their dream and helped to make it a reality. Today, this success is measured in the community spirit and culture that’s behind every Barker’s product, and in the strong brands they have built.

Barker’s of Geraldine: 50 Years Preserved is Michael Barker’s proud tribute to his father Anthony and the story of a heartland New Zealand business, guided by its people, who share their memories in the book. Together, their story is one of entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, fun and dedication to community.

‘It is my hope that this will be a story that inspires others and resonates as a story of risk-taking and success, a uniquely Kiwi story that celebrates people first and foremost . . . For hundreds of people in Geraldine and further afield, it’s been our life’s work and we couldn’t be prouder,’ says Michael Barker.

MICHAEL BARKER has spent his entire career at Barker Fruit Processors Ltd, helping to build it from a small cottage industry. Michael has been winemaker, production manager, general manager, managing director and is now the Chairman and still retains a minority shareholding. He enjoys making a contribution on several other Boards, including Food Innovation Auckland (The Foodbowl). He is passionate about innovation and making great tasting products and he is very proud that Barker’s in its 50th year is still on the corner of the old family farm, near Geraldine. Michael has just finished developing a central Geraldine site for the new Barker’s Foodstore & Eatery which opened on 17 September. At the same time, he has refurbished the old 1900 Vicarage homestead on the same site into six rooms for boutique visitor accommodation.

www.barkersfoodstore.co.nz / www.thevicaragegeraldine.co.nz

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