|Taranaki’s food processing and manufacturing industry is both significant and varied. Dominated by the highly concentrated dairy farming activity that Taranaki is historically renowned for, the platform of food processing and manufacturing is starting to shift into more diverse areas as the region becomes known for food ‘like no other’.
This industry is responsible for providing more than 4000 full-time positions in the region – the majority of which are in dairy, meat and poultry production, along with other specialist manufacturing areas.
Despite growing new trends, Taranaki’s major industry remains milk and by-product processing…for now. Fonterra operates three major plants…the huge milk processing at Whareroa (near Hawera) boasting the Southern Hemisphere’s largest milk processing operation, a cheese factory at Eltham (Central Taranaki) under the Fonterra Brands banner, and a by-products manufacturing plant at Kapuni (South Taranaki), where lactose-based products are made.
Despite dairy products being a major player in food processing and manufacturing, this type of production is not the only string in Taranaki’s food processing bow. PPCS Richmond operates a significant slaughter and meat-processing facility at Hawera, which boasts the group’s largest beef-killing operation.
In addition, Riverlands operates a similar beef-only processing operation at Eltham, with smaller processing and packing operations handling deer, pig and sheep meat processing within the area.
This industry also fosters the development of a significant bio-extracts industry, that sees a variety of food additives, pharmaceuticals, enzyme and industrial compounds being manufactured. Leading players in this market include Lowe Corporation, Pacific Natural Gut Ltd, Renco NZ Ltd and Taranaki Bio Extracts Ltd.
Secondary processing of meat products is also becoming a thriving market sector, particularly with the commissioning in 2005 of the Itoham NZ Ltd plant at Waitara (North Taranaki). This plant will process meat products into a variety of patties and smallgoods for export to Japan.
The poultry industry is also a well established operator in the Taranaki region. Tegel Foods operates a fully integrated meat bird industry, covering breeding, hatching, growing and processing, all based around the Tegel processing plant and feed mill at Bell Block (on the northern outskirts of New Plymouth).
Several other large companies provide a balance in the food processing and manufacturing sector. Yarrows (The Bakers) is based at Manaia (South Taranaki) and is a significant producer of breads, croissants and pastries. The company is also a market leader in developing bread rolls for both retail and fast food outlets.
Van Dyck Specialty Foods are another innovative manufacturer of hot-bake bakery products including pancakes, crepes, pikelets and hotcakes.
Smaller businesses of note include:
- Specialty food processors and packers;
- Organic food processors, including an organic brewery;
- A growing horticultural industry responsible for avocados, tamarillos, nuts (both macadamias and chestnuts), and green salads (both naturally and hydroponically grown);
- A small efficient seafood industry.
Despite the majority of jobs being in the areas of dairy, meat and poultry production, there are a growing number of opportunities in other specialist manufacturing areas.