Blackcurrant business supreme winner at the South Canterbury Awards
A Pleasant Point couple’s black currant business was the big winner of the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce’s Ara Business Excellence Awards 2022.
Tony and Afsaneh Howey’s business, Viberi, also won the Global Exporter award at the awards show, held at several events throughout the day, at Movie Max Digital Timaru on Monday.
The Howeys purchased their 72 hectare Pleasant Point blackcurrant farm in 2004. Viberi produces between 200 and 300 tonnes of mainly black currants and gooseberries per year, some of which is freeze-dried and powdered. The company serves national and international markets.
Thirteen more winners were announced on Monday in various categories at the event, including the new Workplace Wellbeing Award (replacing the Workplace Safety Award), Global Exporter, Innovation and Technology, sustainability and environmental practices and emerging leadership.
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The judges said Viberi’s entry underlined “the importance of having a strong set of core values that are then lived and breathed, literally from the paddock to the plate”.
“Other highlights included an emerging social media presence, high-value products in development, and a commitment to environmental stewardship,” the judges said.
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said it was refreshing to see a business like Viberi, developed in South Canterbury, practicing vertical integration that “ensures high quality is maintained across all processes, from farm to consumer”.
“An organic company that is a trusted and passionately family-run superfood,” Smith said.
Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust was also recognized at the awards ceremony, winning the community organization award.
Smith said trust had made a difference in so many lives and was working in a very difficult environment.
The judges said the trust is able to provide “a comprehensive package of comprehensive services to those in need”.
“He has grown rapidly and is a trusted supplier and strong advocate locally and nationally,” they said.
Smith said the 2022 awards reflect the diversity, innovation and tenacity of the South Canterbury community.
“Despite the Covid pandemic and a series of challenges most businesses and families have never faced before, the awards saw a very impressive list of entrants and finalists.
“The judges all had the difficult task of narrowing down the entries to the incredible finalists and then to the actual winners themselves,” she said.
Smith said that for a community to thrive, there must be a strong business sector complemented by a robust and thriving nonprofit sector.
She said this year’s prices were of particular significance as the impact of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, labor shortages and supply chain disruption had led to increased volatility in the market.
The new Workplace Wellbeing Award recognized the importance for companies to be committed to the health and wellbeing of their staff, she said.
“It was wonderful to see this hotly contested award.”
“The businesses that have participated in the awards have shown adaptability, creativity and innovation and the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce is proud to have provided the business awards platform to recognize and celebrate these achievements.
“The pride in each nomination is evident and the standards are getting higher and higher,” she said.
The new format for the awards this year saw five back-to-back smaller events held at the theater complex, which Smith said reflected everyone’s adaptation to respond to the new Covid-19 environment.
The award judges were Michael Barnett, Michelle Pye, Andrew Hercus, Landon McMillan and the special award judges were Wendy Smith, Dr William Rolleston, Fiona Stevens, ECan, Gordon Handy, Leonie Rasmussen, 2degrees and the chamber council.
Emerging Business Award Finalist: 360 Cranes and Transport
Emerging Business Award Winner: The learning barn
Small Business Pricing: Petronelle Bookstore
Medium Business Price: The Oxford
Large Enterprise Award: Lynn River
Global Exporter Price: Viberi
Community Organization Award: Gloriavale Leavers Support Trust
Well-Being at Work Award: Bidwill Trust Hospital
Sustainability and Environment Award: Accommodation at MenardsNZ Ecosanctuary
Innovation and Technology Awards: Vetta Group
Support local price: Timaru District Libraries
Second Emerging Leader: Regan McLay of Oceania Dairy
Emerging Leader Winner: Cassandra Slumskie of Trinity Employment
Audience Award: Timaru District Libraries
Special mention : Tony Shaw
Supreme Award: Viberi