An $18 million investment in fruit packing in Kerikeri is a huge confidence boost for local growers, says the deputy mayor.
Seeka, an NZX-listed company based in Te Puke, will invest $18m over the next three years in packing machines, a packing shed and cool stores in Kerikeri.
The investment lifts Seeka's packing and processing capacity — known as post-harvest capacity — in kiwifruit, avocados and citrus, to meet expected growth in the area.
An announcement was made to about 20 to 25 local growers at a meeting in Kerikeri on Monday.
"We are here for the long term. This investment will provide world-class facilities in the heart of Northland."
Far North District Council deputy mayor Tania McInnes, who attended the meeting, said the investment showed confidence in local growers' ability to produce.
"It's a massive boost to our local industry. It's a significant industry for us in the Far North," she said. "I'm completely chuffed."
Ms McInnes said the Far North was already well-known for producing kiwifruit, avocados and citrus, with Kerikeri being one of the highest producers of gold kiwifruit.
Seeka was a reputable company with a good track record, she said.
Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said the investment showed commitment to Northland.
"We are here for the long term. This investment will provide world-class facilities in the heart of Northland," he said.
The investment also gave Seeka a competitive edge, which could encourage new growers to use the company, he said.
"We are ensuring our local people have the right infrastructure to deliver quality, price and service in our post-harvest business. We are investing to support our existing growers, along with the tremendous support of new growers choosing Seeka as their post-harvest service provider."
Mr Franks said Seeka continues to "positively look for expansion options" in Northland.
Development will begin this year with the building of a new packhouse and grading machinery, expected to be completed in time for the 2019 harvest.
Seeka will also upgrade its on-site information systems and build additional cool storage later next year, doubling its pre-cooling and cooling capacity.