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New Zealand: Small operators step up to process Nelson's damaged apple crop

Small juicing operations are doing their best to help in the aftermath of the destructive Boxing Day hailstorm in Motueka, that damaged thousands of tonnes of apples. According to figures from New Zealand Apples and Pears, Nelson's crop was down by 36 per cent due to the damage from the hail.

While many apple crops throughout the region are no longer fit for export, there is a surplus of fruit which could still be salvaged, including for juicing. However, late last year the main juicing plant in the region was shut down, with owners Cedenco Foods packing up the operation and moving it to the Hawke's Bay.

In Richmond, juicing business Mad Melon are ramping up their production to try to tackle some of the demand. Mad Melon owner Jamin Brown is scaling up his fruit juice business to process more apples in the wake of the Boxing Day hailstorm. Brown said the company got a big response from orchardists after offering their services on Facebook.

“Basically three of our current flavours use up to 40 percent apple juice, so we were already taking on apples. So as soon as the hail hit, I thought these guys are really going to struggle to export fruit – so how could I add value to that or process that, because perhaps you can only send a certain amount of apples to the supermarket.”

To meet the demand, Brown said the factory would be alternating day and night shifts, juicing both apples and watermelons.

According to, Motueka orchardist and New Zealand Apples and Pears board director Evan Heywood said even with other companies picking up some of the slack, without the Cedenco plant the region's juicing capacity would still be significantly lower than usual.

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