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700 tonnes of tomatoes a day, starting now

Media Release February 25, 2008

There’s No “La Tomatina Fight” With These Precious Tomatoes
- 700 tonnes a day, starting now

Hastings, February 25, 2008:

Starting this morning, Wattie’s will be harvesting and processing an average of 700 tonnes of tomatoes a day for the next seven weeks.

Each day 35 truck and trailer-loads of tomatoes will go over the weighbridge at Wattie’s plant in Hastings.

But General Manager of Operations Neville Cameron says there’ll be no La Tomatina-style tomato fights in Hastings, because Wattie’s tomatoes are too precious and the factory wants every tomato it can lay its hands on.

“Harvesting started this morning at 3 am and processing at 6 am, and will continue around the clock until we have all the tomatoes in – around 36,000 tonnes.

“This is the biggest tomato crop in the country and processing is the final stage of a major logistical challenge.”

Mr Cameron says that the tomatoes are coming in about five days later that originally planned (back in August), due to weather conditions. Wattie’s works on a 30-year average of the sunshine hours and temperatures to determine the ripeness of the crop.

“We had a couple of colder snaps over the Christmas period which slowed growth and maturity.

“However, we are very pleased with the quality of the crop which is a tribute to our growers.”

Ten million seedlings of a tomato variety developed to Wattie’s specifications and to meeting New Zealand conditions were planted out during October and November.

The fruit grows on small bushes in paddocks covering 415 hectares on the Heretaunga Plains. They are harvested by up to three harvesters working in unison.

Wattie’s canned recipe products like Mexican Tomatoes, Pesto Style Tomatoes and Savoury Tomatoes have the first call on the harvest and account for around 10 % of the crop.

The bulk of the crop is processed into tomato paste, an ingredient in a very wide variety of Wattie’s products, ranging from baked beans and spaghetti to soups and sauces.

The tomato crop is part of the annual harvest of 127,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown in New Zealand for Wattie’s.


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