Miro Berries Case Study
1. Tell me a bit about your business.
We are for the advancement of Māori land development, a grower collective, that has bought into a vision of self-determination through high-value horticulture, the lifting of productivity over Māori land, and the creation of jobs for our people. We are a social enterprise and a commercial provider.
2. What is it that makes your business different and special?
We want to be at the forefront of modern horticulture, with $25 million invested in hydroponic orchards. It’s five years into that vision, and we have 50 hectares of blueberries, with 40 of those in tunnels. Each orchard is owned by its own hapu. In total there are 11 orchards, ten growers and 50 hectares. These orchards span from Houhora, down through Morrinsville, BOP, Gisborne, and South Taranaki.
Underpinning it all are Māori values, culture, and driving kaupapa. A strong social enterprise but with just as much focus on commercial drivers. We’re sticking together, acting in concert in a collective way, and caring for the land and the people.
3. What was the trigger that led your inquiry with Dataphyll?
We were talking to BerryCo, Patrick Malley at Maungatapere Berries and other growers because we didn’t really know anything about advanced orchard set-ups, for example, or even payment systems. We investigated products and ended up being introduced to Dataphyll that way. We wanted to make a decision in the interest of our growers, but it was up to each manager to choose to come on board.
We laid out our choice for Dataphyll and every manager agreed, and so we were able to work out a deal for the whole group.
4. What most impressed you about Dataphyll - what really stood out to you?
Our directors have a strong innovation strand, an affinity for technology, that runs through our business.
We actively use technology to be the best orchard we can be, and Dataphyll took away the need for analogue tools such as scales, manual weighing, and pieces of paper. The software’s integration and operational capability impressed me, as did the founders of Dataphyll Kerrin Roberts and Christoph Kistler.
While there are lots of global products, we try to support New Zealand businesses where we can. Kerrin and Christoph are young, intelligent, and ambitious guys looking to solve a problem.
5. What problem or problems did Dataphyll solve for you?
We were looking for a harvest pay and weigh system, to efficiently measure what pickers are picking and integrate that with a payment system. Our pickers are paid by piece rate (by how much they pick).
Getting a system like that running smoothly might sound easy but it isn’t—Dataphyll worked with us over several years to refine system reporting and integrate it with our payroll. At the time we were about 350 people, with 150 on an orchard on any given day.
You need a system that is going to work. Our weigh stations are connected to the internet. It’s really the software and reporting we get out of that.
6. Have there been any unexpected benefits from Dataphyll post-purchase? Things that may have been a pleasant and welcome surprise.
We have really high pick weights and intensive labour management. Dataphyll is the engine of that efficiency. With Dataphyll we save costs, boost labour efficiency and have accurate information that leads to a reduction in pay disputes.
If people want to question their picking weights, we have the information at our fingertips. Dataphyll worked hard to create features and benefits for us and were very good at responding to our needs.
Sometimes they’d work with us from 5am to 11pm. I’m not sure how they managed that, but they did.
7. What has life been like after Dataphyll?
For three seasons now, they’ve continued to help us make the system more efficient. It’s very helpful. With most SaaS systems you don’t even get to talk to a human being. It’s just automated responses and links to FAQs. We appreciate the personal attention Dataphyll gives us by going on the journey with us.
8. To which specific parts of your operation has Dataphyll made a significant difference?
We can focus on certain parts of our orchards, even with production on block information (in terms of their fruit yield). We can easily record that every day and get a full breakdown. For example, we can see how block C went, which was our top block, when we’re hitting our peak, when to hire, and who—it helps with labour planning. We can get estimates of how long it takes to pick that block, and how long it takes to get around that orchard. It even relays packhouse rejection information and highlights what blocks to which we need to pay attention.
9. Do you think it has given you a competitive edge? If so, how?
The way reporting can be used in the hiring process. We know that picking is not for everybody. Often after a day or two a picker may decide it’s not for them or they can’t pick to the required rate. In our early days we had to let go of pickers and dealt with all of the conflict–dealing with human unhappiness is tough.
Dataphyll allows us to set clear expectations, train pickers, and give them a certain number of days to come up to speed. The self-reporting helps pickers to self-select. It gives them enough information to make their own decision. Picking is very competitive; they can make a lot of money. Pickers want details.
10. Using this system this way gives us a competitive edge by allowing us to refine our hiring process. Is there anything that we have not covered that you would like to mention?
Patrick Malley being part of the Dataphyll team means they have got very good customer insight by working with somebody with a lot of experience in the business. The Dataphyll software creators understand growing.
Of course, I can’t say enough about the commitment of Kerrin and Christoph, and how they walk alongside you and solve problems. That is truly unique in the SaaS industry.