A $3 million factory is being opened in South Auckland today as chilled food producer Pitango increases production and looks to boost exports.
The company was founded in 2002 by Israeli immigrants Yasmin and Ofer Shenhav, before being sold into private equity ownership in 2008 and then going into receivership in late 2012 when its Australian parent Gourmet Food Holdings hit trouble.
At the time, Gourmet Food Holdings was reported to be owing millions to creditors, including around A$50 million ($62 million) to National Australia Bank.
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Pitango was then bought out of receivership by Sydney-based food manufacturer Beak and Johnston, which pumped in $1 million to keep the brand going, before investing a further $3 million into the Wiri factory.
Managing director Graeme Laurence said the new facility will allow the food company to expand into Japan and South Korea later this year, adding the two new Asian territories to its current established export markets.
Along with an increased production capacity, the factory will create up to 20 new jobs in South Auckland during peak season, he said.
"We expect that 80 per cent of our product volume will be exported by the end of 2016, which is a 15 per cent increase on the current amount heading overseas," he said.
The extra volume of products being manufactured will also benefit other New Zealand regions, which supply Pitango with hundreds of tonnes of organic and fresh farmed vegetables and meat, Laurence said
The new manufacturing plant will have quadruple the available floor space of the previous factory and is being officially opened today by MP for Manurewa, Louisa Wall.
"Twenty new jobs at a brand new plant in Manurewa will provide solid opportunities for our community, and contributions such as this must be welcomed," Wall said.