Ravensdown, Awatoto. Photo: Florence Charvin

Farmers are buying less fertiliser due to increasing costs and weather disruption, says Ravensdown chief executive Garry Diack.

Diack said the last 18 months for food and fibre production had been challenging. Along with the flooding, fuel costs, interest rates and volatile fertiliser prices had led to a significant drop in the volumes of fertiliser sales.

“Our projected sales volumes for this financial year are looking to be significantly down on the previous financial year, and it is unlikely that fertiliser demand will return to traditional levels in the immediate term.”

Ravensdown has reviewed its business model as a result, in order that it can continue to invest in its ability to support farmers and growers, he said.

“As a result, we are proposing a number of changes to our organisational structure and we have begun consulting with potentially impacted employees and their representatives. We anticipate any chances to be determined by the end of May.”

The company employs about 130 people in Hawke’s Bay. 

Despite the restructure, Diack said Ravensdown had a strong balance sheet. The review was designed to realign its operating model and capabilities to the new market and industry conditions.

The fertiliser company also suffered significant damage and disruption to its factory at Awatoto after the Tutaekuri River flooded and burst the stop bank protecting the industrial zone during Cyclone Gabrielle. The site is the largest superphosphate factory in the country. 

Diack said the flood damage was not a contributing factor in the restructure and the company was actively planning to resume manufacturing at the site in the near future.

The shipping schedule showed that two fertiliser shipments were received at Napier Port last week, confirmed as headed for Ravensdown in the gear up to resuming production after site rejuvenation.

“We remain committed to the region as a significant employer and partner,” he said.

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