Beetroot booster

Heinz Wattie's managing director Mike Pretty says this project aims to develop crop scheduling tools and management guidelines to produce beetroot.

Heinz Wattie’s has embarked on two major projects to improve local carrot and beetroot crops.

This follows the announcement it is no longer buying asparagus from Hawke’s Bay growers.

The carrot project is in the South Island and the beetroot one is in the North Island.

While the company hasn’t released details of the carrot project, it says the two-year beetroot project with Plant & Food Research will cost $480,000 and  involves crops grown for processing in Hawke’s Bay.  

Heinz Wattie’s managing director Mike Pretty says this project aims to develop crop scheduling tools and management guidelines to produce beetroot to specification regardless of the weather and growing conditions. 

“In short, it is improving the ability to produce the right product at the right time, allowing the processing facility to operate smoothly and efficiently,” he says.

The project is 40% funded by government agency Callaghan Innovation.

Wattie’s has been processing beetroot in Hastings for 70 years and, until recently, the annual volume was about 3000 tonnes.

In the 2011-12 summer season this was scaled up to meet Heinz Australia’s demands and this season around 24,000 tonnes is being processed.

More than $7 million was invested in the Hastings factory to process these increased volumes into 37 different products lines for consumption in New Zealand and Australia.