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Heinz Wattie’s Upgrades its Green Bean Processing Lines

Heinz Wattie’s Upgrades its Green Bean Processing Lines

Heinz Wattie’s is this week commissioning its upgraded green bean processing lines at its Hornby plant ahead of this year’s bean crop, estimated to be about 10,000 tonnes.

Christchurch Operations Manager Trevor Biggs says the $1.6 million investment in new equipment and technology will lead to a step-up in processing quality.

“It is part of our continuous focus on quality improvements and production efficiencies to benefit domestic and export customers,” Mr Biggs says.

The upgrade of the lines has seen the addition of new washing equipment, automated sorters and equipment for dealing with clusters of beans as they come through from the harvest. It advances the plant’s sustainability goals by reducing water use and bean wastage.

“Because beans are a ground crop which is neither shelled (liked peas) or peeled (like carrots) they are perhaps the most difficult crop we process. The harvesting process picks up foreign matter, and it is a significant challenge to eliminate bean stalks and field material.

“The automated colour sorter technology will help us discard stalks, stones and dirt picked up with beans. We will achieve improvements in the quality, efficiency and competitiveness of our bean operations,” Mr Biggs says.

Canterbury Pea – high yield, very good quality crops

The bean harvest directly follows the company’s Canterbury pea season which has been characterised by high yields and very good quality crops well suited to the current export and domestic market demand for retail grade products.

The successful pea season is the result of a very favourable growing season featuring regular rainfall and moderate temperatures, and the company’s focus on agronomic excellence. Heinz Wattie’s contracts 220 Canterbury farmers to grow pea crops, and personally assigns a company agronomist to work with each farmer.

South Island Agricultural Manager Mark Daniels believes that this close liaison with growers provides them with sustainable returns and gives Heinz Wattie’s greater certainty over product quality and required volume.

“This season most growers have received higher than average returns for their pea crops.”

The company’s agricultural research staff select high performing pea varieties from around the world, and through its partnership in a long standing Canterbury-based pea breeding program.

The Christchurch plant, which exports two-thirds of its production, has gained a reputation worldwide for quality and performance. It operates in a highly competitive global environment, and further automation will result in a significant increase in efficiency.


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