Family-owned business, Kelston Orchards Ltd, has more than doubled the size of its Hawke’s Bay packhouse and cool store in response to increased global demand for New Zealand apples.

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s apple growing region, Kelston Orchards packs fresh apples grown on their 15 orchards and also provides post-harvest services to some of the largest growers in the Hawke’s Bay.

The new fully racked 1,200 square metre finished goods cool store has the capacity to hold 1600 pallets, adding to the current 3000 square metre, 12000 bin store , while the state-of-the-art 2,500 square metre packhouse facility features a multi-lane feeding and optical grading system capable of handling 60 bins per hour.

With technology developed in France by MAF Roda agrobitoics, the facility includes a high performance handling system which ensures apples are managed delicately and quality is not compromised at any point during the process. When not packing apples for export, the packhouse will also be used to support local summerfruit growers.

“We’ve come a long way since we first established the business 40 years ago,” said Kelston Orchards Ltd owner, Tony Harington.

“The new development is a significant milestone for our team as we’ve outgrown the now demolished old 900 square metre operation and our strategy is to ensure our infrastructure is keeping pace with our rate of growth.”

“It’s a wonderful resource for our business, providing us with the ability to more efficiently grade and pack our fruit and provide a high level of service to the orchards who work alongside us.”

Kelston Orchards export partner, Te Mata Exports, said the new advanced packing technology serves as a significant platform for growth.

“The considerable investment made by the Harington family highlights a huge amount of confidence in the industry and the future global demand for good quality New Zealand apples”, said Te Mata Exports director, Murray Tait.

“The packhouse has the capacity to increase the volume of premium apples each year for export to our customers throughout Asia and key global markets”

“Facilities such as this ensure New Zealand maintains its reputation as a leading grower, packer and exporter of premium produce.”

When running at full capacity the entire operation employs 130 people, including 55 in the packshouse, and produces 10,000 cartons of apples a day.