Rohe Produce Limited is planning to build a $70 million, 8.9-hectare, high-tech glasshouse at Marsden Point, focused on growing organic speciality tomatoes. The glasshouse will be the first of its kind in New Zealand. It will be set up, using of 100 percent LED lights, which Rohe Produce said would increase yields by 50 percent per square meter.
According to Managing director Greg Prendergast, previously head grower manager at T&G Global, tomatoes have always been a popular crop, but there is an opportunity to better serve New Zealand consumers. The availability of a consistent supply of good quality tomatoes would develop and expand a market which until now had not had a regular source of large scale commercial organic production, he added.
"You mostly see tomatoes at the moment hitting $12 or $15 a kilogram in retail markets simply because there's not enough tomatoes in New Zealand at the moment. As much as it's good and nice for a grower to get that kind of money, consumers don't want to pay that money. By having consistent yield through those winter periods we just make tomatoes more affordable for everybody."
Rnz.co.nz reports that earlier this week, the company received $14 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund. It is estimated about 200 construction jobs will be created for 12 to 18 months during the glasshouse build, and about 110 permanent jobs once operational year-round.