Gisborne's kiwifruit industry was recently given a boost, when Eastland Port handed over the second of two newly refurbished cool store facilities to tenant NZ Fruits. The new cool stores started life as one meat freezer in the 1970s. In 2018, Eastland Port decided to re-purpose the facility.
“The building needed major renovations to make it fit-for-purpose,” Eastland Port commercial manager Hayden Green said. “We wanted to ensure that we created something that could be used locally, so we ran a tender to identify a suitable tenant. NZ Fruits won the tender. Together, we worked to retrofit the building into a kiwifruit cool store with state-of-the-art refrigeration facilities.”
The first facility, known as the North Store, was handed over just in time for the 2020 kiwifruit season. Stage two, the South Store, was handed over shortly after. Combined, both facilities can store a total of 2860 pallets of kiwifruit and enable potentially the shortest kiwifruit supply chain in New Zealand, from orchard to ship.
Gisborne's kiwifruit crop is the earliest crop in New Zealand to be harvested, half of which is packed by NZ Fruits. NZ Fruits managing director David Fox said with cool storage now an option at Eastland Port, the region was strategically placed to export more kiwifruit than ever before.
With the growth in the local kiwifruit industry, NZ Fruits would increase kiwifruit supply from existing growers over the next five years.
“Temperature-regulated storage space in the region is in short supply. We're thrilled to have worked with Eastland Port on this facility to enable export of our horticultural products.”
Mr Fox added that other fruit destined for smaller markets had to be trucked to the Port of Tauranga and put in containers there. “Ultimately, NZ Fruits would prefer to be exporting via containers, through Eastland Port.”
Mr Green said the facility would benefit Tairawhiti. “We are working with our customers across all products to develop more efficient and resilient supply chains. These cool stores help achieve that for the local kiwifruit sector. “By keeping the kiwifruit supply chain within our region, this project creates local employment opportunities across industry, while also reducing the number of trucks on the road that would otherwise be carting kiwifruit out of the region.”