Whanganui may be set to become a significant kiwifruit growing region in the wake of plans to convert up to 150ha of farmland near the city into kiwifruit orchards. Kiwifruit industry grower and post-harvest operator, Apata Group Ltd, is looking to buy the land to convert the area into new orchards in the Whanganui and south Taranaki region, a move that is expected to add around 1.5 million additional kiwifruit trays for export every year.
According to Apata brand and communications manager Dave Freeman, the company is interested in purchasing from farmers who may be looking to free up capital or who are keen to consider options for diversifying the use of their land: "Kiwifruit grows well in that area. We already have several orchards in the region, the largest of which is a 21ha block we bought from a dairy farmer recently and we are now looking for more suitable land."
At this time, Apata handles around 10 per cent of New Zealand's kiwifruit exports – an amount equivalent to 15 million trays annually. It harvests and processes the fruit through its pack house and cool storage facilities in Te Puke and Katikati in the Bay of Plenty, all of which is then supplied to Mt Maunganui-based international kiwifruit marketing company Zespri for export.