Horticulture New Zealand says the findings of the survey confirm that the sector will help drive New Zealand’s post-Covid recovery.
The company says the harvest was carried out under conditions not previously experienced in its 50-year history of operating at its Hornby factory, due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 protocols.
Wattie’s field and factory staff, based in Christchurch had to adapt quickly to the strict protocols developed in response to the Ministry of Primary Industry’s requirements.
Site manager for Wattie’s in Hornby, Graham Broom said everyone understood the reasons for the changes in our operations, but the new work practices added significantly to people’s workloads during an already busy time, particularly in the factory.
“During harvest we also had to adapt to new ways of communicating with farmers and working in the field to ensure social distancing and traceability of contact was adhered to,” Broom explained.
“We are immensely proud of the way in which our teams worked to finds ways of working to meet the requirements of MPI in order to mitigate the identified COVID risks, without dropping production.”
He added that the challenges extended beyond the fields and processing operations to the reduced availability and movement of containers for delivering processed and finished product to customers.
“Throughout all this, the level of collaboration among our teams and with business partners has been phenomenal. The way product has continued to move through the supply chain, from field to customers, is a credit to everyone involved.”
With the major pea, bean and baby carrot harvesting and processing activities behind it, the factory is moving back to a five-day week with the potato and carrot harvests still to go.
However, as one season runs its course, planting for the next is about to start – with Wattie’s planting broad bean seeds on April 26.