Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Bay of Plenty hort software firm gets boost from overseas partner

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Foreign investment in NZ agritech firms hailed as way of future.
AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell says for the agritech sector to reach $8 billion in annual revenue, the industry needs to look at new ways of growing businesses.
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Investment by a Canadian software investment company in a Bay of Plenty fruit systems company has been welcomed by head of AgriTech NZ as a valuable capital injection that will give the firm greater global horsepower.

Tauranga-based Radford Software, a family-owned business, has specialised in full chain software systems used in multiple horticultural enterprises in New Zealand and Australia, with systems that include orchard management programmes through to sales and logistics systems to manage and track fresh fruit to market.

Arcadea Group announced its investment in Radford this month.

Arcadea is a software investment company working largely with founder-controlled businesses in the $2 million to $20m revenue bracket and experiencing growth rates of 10-100% per year.

Radford Software was founded in 1989 by Phil Radford after a close collaboration with the kiwifruit sector in Bay of Plenty, but diversifying into fruit and vegetable sectors including avocados, cherries, citrus and apples.

AgriTech NZ CEO Brendan O’Connell welcomed the purchase by Arcadea as a move that would add significant horsepower to Radford’s global reach and ability to accelerate software development in the coming years.

Of the 416 companies listed in AgriTech NZ’s knowledge hub tool, about two thirds are New Zealand owned and based. 

“I think there is some dislike at a ministerial level about overseas ownership of NZ companies including agritech firms but in reality it is not the same as foreign ownership of farms,” O’Connell said. 

“It is a natural part of the agritech ecosystem to have some foreign ownership in companies, it is actually very healthy,” said O’Connell.

Adam Cuming, CEO of Radford, said the company has capitalised on global demand for a software company capable of offering support across the entire supply chain.

“Now with Arcadea we have the opportunity to elevate our products and services for our valued existing customers as well as serve the many new customers joining as we expand into new markets.”
Arcadea managing director Paul Yancich said his company is in the throes of aggressively building in the agritech sector, with further developments to be announced soon.

“As we studied the market, Radfords stood out among competitors due to its ability to bring material value to complex crops and market ecosystems. 

“Radfords also met the rare mix of criteria we have in our investees: customer centricity, mission-critical products, and an unassailable market leadership and knowledge.”

O’Connell said as NZ starts to hit its physical limits in food production, foreign ownership of agritech offers a means of continuing to leverage off that capability, without boundary or resource limitations.

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