Seeka will have a new automated packline and high-efficiency coolstore near Te Puke operational for next year's kiwifruit season.
The company is to build and commission a new kiwifruit packing machine in the Seeka KKP packhouse at the intersection of Te Puke Highway and Maketū Rd. It will replace an existing 25-year-old 10-lane machine with a new eight-lane machine including camera grading and packing automation.
The company expects the new packline to offer significant production efficiencies and an increase in total trays packed.
An additional 650,000 static trays of cool storage will be constructed at the nearby Transcool site in place of a smaller, old cool store.
The new store includes additional pre-cooling capacity to handle the increased production and will be a high-efficiency store with five-high pallet racking, high air movement and automation.
General manager of grower services and marketing Jim Smith says the packline will be a retrofit with some extension to the existing building "to make room for the new machine and product flow".
The new grading machine will incorporate some of the most up to date technology available.
"It has got some of the latest items in and around it in terms of automated box filling, fruit placement and grading automation as well.
"So while we are automating in as many places as possible, there will still be seasonal roles available. We are growing, and we certainly aren't removing the overall labour requirement because of the technology."
The new cool storage facility is a replacement of the old with the new.
"We are really replacing old gear with high-efficiency cool store technologies, which gives us great cooling control as well as switching to a carbon neutral refrigerant, so it ticks another box for us in terms of efficiency, quality and sustainability."
Supporting growth and future proofing are the principal motivations for the investment.
"This investment gives us the opportunity to support our growing kiwifruit base by providing our core service of packing cool storage and it makes sense to do it in the key growing area of Te Puke."
Both will be in use next kiwifruit packing season.
"The recent level 4 Covid lockdown meant a pause for a few weeks, but we are now well into the next phase of the development."
Jim says controlled growth is guiding the investment.
"With the kiwifruit industry on a growth curve, providing post harvest capacity to continue to support our growers, as they grow, is key for us continuing to provide an efficient and high quality service."