SumaGrow sets up Asia-Pacific base in Auckland

These pumpkins and watermelons, grown with Sumagrow liquid fertiliser, were the largest at the Kansas State Fair. The biggest pumpkin weighed in at 611 pounds (277.1 kilograms) and the watermelon at 181.51b (82.3kg).
These pumpkins and watermelons, grown with Sumagrow liquid fertiliser, were the largest at the Kansas State Fair. The biggest pumpkin weighed in at 611 pounds (277.1 kilograms) and the watermelon at 181.51b (82.3kg).

A fast-growing American fertiliser manufacturer, SumaGrow, is preparing to use Auckland as its base for exporting through the Asia-Pacific region including China and India.

The Mississippi-based company is planning to initially produce 10 containers or 200,000 litres of its all-natural Sumagrow liquid fertiliser a week in Auckland – with the potential of quickly doubling that production.

"New Zealand is a very important agricultural country and is well positioned with its `100% Pure’ brand. We can meet that promise, and there is a list of 20 other reasons why we consider Auckland an appropriate place to base our Asia-Pacific operations,’’ says SumaGrow representative, John Greenberg.

SumaGrow is working with a partner to identify a suitable building, 3000-5000 sq m in size, and transform it into a modern blending and bottling facility, employing up to 20 people. It will be SumaGrow’s first overseas production plant – with its original factory in Hattiesburg operating three shifts and producing 20 containers of fertiliser a week.

SumaGrow’s John Greenberg, on the left, talks with the founder of Whole Foods in the United States, John Mackey, pictured on the right.
SumaGrow’s John Greenberg, on the left, talks with the founder of Whole Foods in the United States, John Mackey, pictured on the right.

"We increased the capacity of Hattiesburg and learned enough to move directly into production in New Zealand during 2017,’’ says Greenberg. The Auckland plant will supply Australia, South East Asia including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, China and India.

The Sumagrow product will initially be sent to Auckland as a concentrated syrup that contains active microbes. The syrup will then be finished, bottled and distributed. In phase two, the Auckland plant will cultivate and manufacture product.

Greenberg says the support of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) has been ``really helpful. They made introductions for us and they helped get us to the right people from a regulatory point of view.

"ATEED is a good model of government at work, and have been very positive. That’s what you want – you look for interaction, not intervention, when a foreign company wants to do business in New Zealand.’’

SumaGrow’s product was approved in New Zealand as a fertiliser in late 2014 by the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the company has received an import and export permit.

Greenberg says Sumagrow can be very useful to New Zealand. "There is a nitrate leaching problem. Our product increases the holding capacity of the soil and can reduce leaching by up to 70 per cent. There are also marginal soils in the Far North ... Sumagrow should be able to alleviate those problems.''

Sumagrow is a soil amendment of concentrated living microbes found in healthy soils. The formulation is suspended in an organic humic carrier, and makes atmospheric nitrogen and extant soil minerals – phosphate, magnesium and calcium - available for uptake by plants.

Greenberg says products containing Sumagrow replace or reintroduce vital soil microorganisms that are lost or damaged by conventional farming methods including the overuse of chemical-based fertilisers and pesticides. The typical application rate, normally by spraying, is one litre of Sumagrow to 20 litres of water – and 10 litres covers one hectare.

The all natural, microbial-assisted fertiliser Stand Up with Sumagrow inside is marketed in New Zealand.
The all natural, microbial-assisted fertiliser Stand Up with Sumagrow inside is marketed in New Zealand.

The microbial technology of SumaGrow won the Pitch Tank award at the 2016 FreedomFest in the United States ahead of 800 other applicants,

After a decade of research and testing, SumaGrow began selling its OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed fertiliser commercially in 2010. It sells in 47 US states, as well as overseas.

The American company says its product, which requires lower applications of NPK fertiliser, promotes grass growth, increases crop yields by 10 per cent and improves the nutritional value of food and forage crops including higher brix (sugar) levels.

SumaGrow has conducted some 800 commercial and university studies, trials and demonstrations in more than 40 countries, and over the past five years has experienced annual compound sales growth of 80 per cent and more.