ZIWI remains top manufacturer/exporter with new facilities and innovations

It’s been a tough year for ultra-premium New Zealand pet food manufacturer ZIWI.

In February, its brand-new 12,500-sqm $85-million kitchen in Awatoto Hawke’s Bay was extensively damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle floodwaters, and production came to a halt. Luckily, ZIWI was able to ramp up production at its Christchurch plant but wasn’t able to fully cover Awatoto being offline.

A massive five-month clean-up operation followed, and in late July, the kitchen was again in full production. ZIWI has retained all staff since the cyclone, with ZIWI CEO Stuart Irvine saying: “We’re pleased to say that post-cyclone, we’ve kept our entire team on. They have been amazing throughout. Some were involved in the clean-up, others have been redeployed to other parts of the business.”

ZIWI’s office team is still based in temporary space in Napier and Hastings and expects to join the manufacturing team at Awatoto in early 2024, capping off 12 months of tremendous highs and lows.

The company’s move to Hawke’s Bay in 2022 is key to ZIWI fulfilling its global growth ambitions. ZIWI had long outgrown its original premises in the Bay of Plenty, where it was spread over three locations. It needed a new site, with good transport connections, where it could grow.

The search brought it to Hawke’s Bay and a fantastic green fields location at Awatoto, enabling it to double the production capacity of Tauranga. Quality New Zealand ingredients are a huge part of the ZIWI story and brand grounded in peak nutrition and ethical food production.

ZIWI pioneered air-dried technology 20 years ago and continues to innovate producing a range of wet (canned), air-dried and freeze-dried foods for cats and dogs.

Stuart Irvine, CEO of ZIWI, ensures their product is made with quality and integrity.

The product development team includes food technologists and food scientists, with deep knowledge of the nutritional needs of cats and dogs. This knowledge helps ZIWI to develop products closely linked to what an animal would eat in the wild.

ZIWI’s most recent innovation, freeze-dried boosters, was developed in response to pet parents’ increased awareness of pet health and is a super tasty nutrient-dense topper that supports pet health, offering a daily boost of superfoods for proactive health and wellness.

Launched earlier this year under the ZIWI Peak brand, the freeze-dried raw super boost series was named in the TOP 10 Innovation Products at The One Pet Show 2023, a high-profile trade show for the pet industry in China, that this year featured nearly 800 brand exhibitors, and attracted almost 48,000 trade and more than 132,000 consumer visitors.

With the ZIWI kitchen fully operational and the new canning facility set to produce in 2024, ZIWI will start to see its $120 million investment in its Hawke’s Bay facilities and commitment to the region, begin to bear fruit.

With products sold in 35 international markets, ZIWI is New Zealand’s largest exporter of pet food, as well as supplying pet stores domestically. The outlook for the company is promising, says Stuart, with key global trends of growth in pet numbers and premiumisation of pet food underpinning ZIWI’s expansion plans.

“That’s why we can confidently invest in a new plant that doubles our production capacity, and in our new facility that’s due to open next year.”

In addition to the Awatoto kitchen, ZIWI’s new canning facility, also at Awatoto, is a $40 million investment, currently under construction by builders Watts & Hughes, and project engineers, APEX. “It will add 8600 sqm of new production capacity to ZIWI’s Hawke’s Bay operations, especially in wet food production, and allows ZIWI total control over quality, greater responsiveness to market trends and greater flexibility,” says Stuart.

ZIWI is already a significant employer in Hawke’s Bay, with some 370 people working for the company in either Awatoto or Freeze Dried Foods in Hastings, which ZIWI purchased for its freeze-drying capabilities. Once operational, the canning plant will create a further 50 jobs. There is a huge range of Hawke’s Bay roles, spanning manufacturing, production planning, engineering and maintenance, research and development, health and safety and human resources.

With the ZIWI kitchen fully operational and the new canning facility set to produce in 2024, ZIWI will start to see its $120 million investment in its Hawke’s Bay facilities and commitment to the region, begin to bear fruit. Stuart says that Hawke’s Bay is an integral part of ZIWI’s future success story.

“ZIWI is all about product quality and integrity, and manufacturing in New Zealand is how we believe we can ensure that. Growing our manufacturing excellence will enable us to capture every growth opportunity, and we see our Awatoto facilities playing a major part in supporting our growth plans.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2023 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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