The Rockit apple brand has received another boost with a new 2500sq m facility opened in Havelock North by Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce last night.
The Havelock North Fruit Company (HNFC) had the processing facility built to meet global demand for its Rockit apples, which are marketed in a clear plastic tube and exported to several countries.
At last night's function, Mr Joyce declared the building officially open for business, saying he admired HNFC's innovation.
"Here in Hawke's Bay and right around the country, there's a whole bunch of innovative companies that are going out and creating their own niches in the world and succeeding.
"You're not just taking on New Zealand, you're going to take on the world and win."
HNFC managing director Phil Alison said $17 million had been invested in the production and marketing of Rockit so far, and world-wide consumer demand for the apples was up 700 per cent from 2013.
Rockit's success had proved a fruit such as an apple could be marketed as "a premium snack food and compete against sugar-coated confectionary".
"We're very proud of our of our Hawke's Bay heritage," Mr Alison said. Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the company had partnered with EIT Hawke's Bay and the Ministry of Social Development to develop a pre-employment course, which had provided jobs for more than 20 locals.
"What we're witnessing tonight is an absolute example of where New Zealand needs to go and where Hawke's Bay needs to go.
"I'm told that in 2018 there could be 40 jobs and following on from that there could be 300."
The building was blessed by a local kaumatua and the dignitaries underwent a tour of the facility.
The new digs at Cooper St include a 2500sq m packhouse, coolstore, computerised grading equipment and administration offices.
HNFC exports Rockit apples the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong and Taiwan.