Richard_Burke_webFounded in 1975, LeaderBrand is recognised as one of New Zealand’s largest and most diversified horticultural and fresh food businesses.

With farms located in Gisborne and Canterbury, LeaderBrand is the largest grower, packer, and shipper of buttercup squash (Kabocha) in the world, and the largest grower, packer, and shipper of broccoli, lettuce and fresh sweetcorn in New Zealand. They are also one of the largest growers of ‘Gisborne Chardonnay’ and Pinot Gris grapes.

“The highly discerning Japanese market is a large scale export customer and the protocols they require are applied to all LeaderBrand produce,” explains the company’s Annual Crop Manager Richard Burke (pictured).

“We’re certified with NZGAP and have a certified HACCP-based food safety programme. We also conduct regular random residue tests and only use certified non-GMO seed stocks.”

Customers can trace the origin of a delivery directly to the paddock it was grown in, and view online documentation relating to the planting, crop management and harvesting of the produce in that paddock, plus subsequent storage, packing and shipping to the customer.

“We grow over 3,000ha of fresh produce every year, so we’re probably the largest single user of agrichemicals in the country,” says Richard.

And when it comes to recycling their plastic containers, Richard supports Agrecovery all the way.

“Every single eligible container is triple rinsed and dropped off to the Gisborne Agrecovery site.”

In fact LeaderBrand have recycled over 10,000 containers since the Container programme started in 2007 – data easily accessible to the company via Agrecovery’s Smart Member Services (SMS) reporting function on the website (

SMS allows members to download reports which can be used as proof of recycling activity for quality assurance audits, such as for NZ GAP.

The Agrecovery Container programme allows growers and farmers to recycle 1 – 60 litre plastic agrichemical and animal health containers at over 70 collection sites across the country. Recycling is free for products belonging to the 53+ brand owners who support the Agrecovery Container programme.

Containers must be triple rinsed, free from residue and still have the label on to allow the brand to be identified for free recycling. Recycling containers purchased from Agrecovery supporting brand owners is compulsory for NZ GAP requirements.

A complementary programme for the recovery of steel or plastic drums between 61 and 1000 litres was recently launched by Agrecovery. Drums belonging to the initial seven participating drum brand owners are eligible for free on-property collection, with more brand owners expected to join the programme in the coming months.

Richard Burke is adamant that using Agrecovery should be ‘business as usual’.

“I don’t buy it when other people say recycling is difficult or they’re too busy. We deal with hundreds of containers per month; it’s just part of the routine now.”

“In fact the only hassle is disposing of containers that aren’t part of Agrecovery, so we try to steer clear of those products.”