Owen Hembry

Business news editor of the New Zealand Herald

Bumper Wattie's beetroot crop after Tasman move

Photo / Richard Robinson
Photo / Richard Robinson

The summer may not have been great for cooking the perfect burger but at least one essential ingredient - beetroot - is enjoying a booming season.

Wattie's is forecasting a harvest of 11,500 tonnes of the bright-coloured vegetable this season - four times the amount of previous years.

Agriculture manager Ivan Angland said it was Wattie's largest beetroot crop and it was expected to double again next year.

"The big step up in the beetroot crop is due to the relocation of production from Australia to take advantage of the overall scale of our Hastings production site," Angland said.

Heinz announced last year it would move the production of sauces, canned beetroot and meals from several plants across the Tasman to its Hastings subsidiary, Wattie's, which it acquired from Goodman Fielder in 1992.

The company had been harvesting beetroot for about six weeks, longer than previous seasons, and would continue until the end of April, Angland said.

The huge extra volume was for the Australian market.

"As it happens, we've had very favourable conditions for this crop in the Bay this year, with occasional rain but no prolonged heavy downpours," he said.

"We have an excellent quality crop, including baby beets and the big retail and food service varieties."

The beetroot line at Hastings had been upgraded at a cost of $5 million to cater for the increased volume.

Wattie's said it had purchased two new beetroot harvesters from Denmark to harvest the larger crop.

- NZ Herald

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