Bumper year for processing volumes
Since establishing its new kiwifruit post-harvest facility at Tauriko in The Lakes District, Tauranga in 2018 Mount Pack & Cool (Mpac) has experienced a bumper year in terms of processing volumes.Brendon Lee, General Manager of Operations, says the 20% hike in volumes processed through its facilities at The Lakes and in Mt Maunganui wasn’t a surprise and with the latest technologies and systems used, the processing season proceeded smoothly.
“Now we’re approaching the end of the year it’s a quieter time for us. “A time to concentrate on having a break soon and to attending to necessary maintenance of plant,” Brendon says.
Once the team return mid-January the focus will be on recruitment of seasonal workers, a critical part of the yearly cycle of activity. Recruitment pathways are through standard advertising on sites such as SEEK, TradeMe, local newspapers, back-packer websites and social media platforms.
The return of seasonal staff year on year is an important element in the success of the processing season ahead.“We have a whole mixed bag of staff and a good balance of returning and new employees. “We find some people put their names down at several pack-houses so there is an element of not being certain as to actually how many we will employ.”
Mpac is registered with the Government’s RSE (Recognised Season Employer) scheme. This is an accredited status the company must maintain in order to receive their allocated current number of 62 RSE workers from the Islands.
“We have to demonstrate that we can accom-modate and care for these workers. In the first year the Government allows you to have 10 RSE’s and in subsequent years this gets scaled up. In all the Bay of Plenty has an allocation of 1500 RSE’s.”
Currently accommodation for seasonal workers is split between Te Puke and Tauranga and provided by a separate organisation, however MPAC is currently in the process of planning to build their own accommodation in Tauranga. Brendon says when this happens it will be a further significant development for the company.
“The RSE scheme is fantastic but it comes with a fair amount of work in terms of ensuring pastoral care, settling in of workers in a new environment different from their homes.”Mpac employs dedicated permanent staff to en-sure these workers are looked after well and have a positive experience working through the season.
While it’s a quiet time in terms of the packing facility, the opposite is the case in the orchards with seasonal pollination just completed in November and activities like summer pruning, fruit thinning and male pruning underway.
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