Cedenco is creating 65 new seasonal jobs in Hawke's Bay with its expanded apple processing factory in Hastings set to be commissioned in mid-March.
The season runs from March to October, while an additional 11 full-time permanent positions will be created through the shift of the company's Nelson operations to their existing Hawke's Bay site.
Cedenco CEO Joe Nelson said he was extremely excited about the opportunity.
He said the focus is currently on executing the build in Hastings and getting assets up and running.
"Some of the technology that we've invested in is coming out of Europe, due to arrive this month," Nelson said.
"That's going to be a pretty big milestone, when that arrives we can get it unpacked and start installing it in the factory."
Modifications to the building started about four months ago, with some machinery coming up from the old site in Nelson as well.
JNelson said the factory will produce apple ingredients targeting the food service and bakery sectors: "The main ingredients that it'll make are going to be diced and sliced apples, but we'll do a range of other products, purees and things like that as well.
"It goes into products like apple pies, apple strudels and that type of thing."
He said more than 70 per cent of what Cedenco produce is exported.
"Although we have got a really strong and loyal following locally, a really big part of our growth aspirations is to expand our exports, starting off in Australia and then expanding into Southeast Asia, then markets like Taiwan, China and Japan," Nelson said.
Although Covid makes exporting product a little tricky with supply chain challenges, the CEO said demand remains strong as "people have got to eat."
He said the fruit picker shortage brought about by Covid limiting working holiday makers and RSE workers from overseas would have an impact though.
"We are expecting that to be one of the major constraints with this year's apple crop," Nelson said.
"We're still very confident we're going to get good volume of fruit this year," he said, adding Cedenco is forecasting it will process over 20,000 metric tonnes of apples in 2021.
Nelson said Cedenco are able to offer nine months of seasonal employment in the factory, rather than the three months one would work picking fruit.
"For those staff that show a real interest in food processing, there really is a career path for them, a potential to move into permanent employment, or build their skillset up," he said.