Hawke's Bay is in for a potential big job boost as Cedenco Foods looks to move its apple processing plant to the region.
The plant, which is currently based in Nelson, employs 29 permanent workers and up to 100 seasonal staff at the factory, most of them Nelson locals, but at the end of the 2020 season the plant will be shut down and relocated to Hastings.
Cedenco Foods chief executive Joe Nelson said that at this point he could not confirm how many jobs will be available for Hawke's Bay residents but that the current numbers in Nelson were a good indicator of what to potentially expect.
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He said that the reason to move the Nelson facility to Hastings was because the company already has a strong base set up in the East Coast region and that it made sense to relocate to Hastings.
In March 2018 T&G Global Limited (T&G) entered into a conditional sale and purchase agreement for the sale of some major assets to Cedenco.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cedenco assumed control of T&G processing business, employees and assets in Hastings and the fruit ingredient assets based in Nelson as well as also taking assignment of the long-term property lease in Hastings.
Cedenco plans to construct a "state of the art" building there to expand the Hastings apple processing operations, according to Nelson, on a site it acquired in 2018 which it currently operates out of on Tomoana Rd.
The Nelson site is set to close its downs at the end of the year, with the new Hastings facility taking over.
Nelson said although it is exciting news to be taking a new step forward and setting up a strong base in Hastings, the decision to relocate was "a very difficult one to make".
"We have looked at all short and long term options that would enable us to continue processing in the existing facility, or to replace it within the district, but unfortunately none of these options are available before the current lease expires."
He said the "greatest disappointment" in the decision was the effect the relocation would have on staff and the Nelson region.
"We have really enjoyed working alongside them and we hope as many of them as possible will take up our offer of relocation to Hastings, but the move from the South Island to the North is a big step for a lot of people."
Nelson said that although it is sad news for the southern region it is something that will be welcome news in Hawke's Bay which he hopes the company's continued investment in will help bolster the industry in the region.
"There has been a big investment in orchards and the apple industry in Hawke's Bay over recent years and what we want to do is capitalise on that and be a part of the future growth that's happening in the region."