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As rescue personnel in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch worked frantically to find and care for victims of a massive 6.3 earthquake that struck Tuesday, Feb. 22, word was received by The Oppenheimer Group that its associates were unharmed.

David Nelley, apple and pear category director for Vancouver, BC-based Oppenheimer, said that there were no direct casualties among the grower group, although he noted, "A lot of our New Zealand growers have family and friends in Christchurch. There are very few people in that country who are not connected in some way to the earthquake."

Mr. Nelley said that New Zealand apple crops were unaffected by the catastrophe.

"The crops were not affected, and the apple supply out of New Zealand will not be affected. Almost all the apples are shipped out of northern ports, and Christchurch is in the south," he said. Galas are now being picked and packed, he added.

Mr. Nelley noted the longstanding relationship between the North American distributor and the New Zealand growers. "Oppenheimer has been associated with the New Zealand fruit industry for almost 50 years," he stated, "and the country and Christchurch are certainly in our thoughts."