New Zealand: highest yields in 50-year history
- François-Xavier Branthôme
New Zealand brand Wattie's sees bumper tomato crop
Heinz Wattie's Limited is a well-known New Zealand-based food producer of frozen and packaged fruit, vegetables, sauces, and more. Wattie’s says the latest tomato harvest season has seen some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history. This season, the company says it hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare, the equivalent of 5.6 kg per plant. It makes for a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved and is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.
The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then has been going 24 hours a day. Over that time, Wattie’s harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes.
Wattie’s managing director Neil Heffer says that collectively the company’s Hawke’s Bay tomato growers have contributed to a ‘bumper season’.
“Our harvest team have worked extremely hard to keep the machinery operating through several wet weather spells to maximize our yield from each tomato crop. We couldn’t be prouder of the team in delivering the key ingredient to many of our Wattie’s products,” Heffer says.
“We are fortunate to have a local family helping with the tomato harvest, a family that has done so for more than two decades. They operate the harvesters and tractors right through the harvest season, approximately 70 days, day and night and we are extremely grateful for their support again this year.”
Wattie’s tomatoes are used in products like tomato paste as well as peeled, diced and canned tomato products. Others are put through a tomato evaporator and turned into condensed tomato paste which is then used in soups, baked beans, and tinned spaghetti.
Sources: rnz.co.nz, freshplaza.com, ruralnewsgroup.co.nz