Global Agriculture

Urban sprawl prompts relocation for Hawke’s Bay mushroom facility

01 November 2022, New Zealand: Te Mata Mushrooms is suspending production at its Brookvale site and shifting its operation elsewhere, in part due to the pressures of urban sprawl.

As residential density in the area increased over time, so too did pressure for the operation to resolve the odour produced by its compositing facility which was offending the encroaching residents.

Te Mata Mushrooms chairman, John Seton, says the closure of the 50-year-old site is disappointing.

Conditions at the facility had continued to deteriorate despite infrastructure investment and process improvements including new compost-making technology. Maintaining production levels had proved difficult with the aging facility, John says.

“Despite our best efforts to resolve issues with a very outdated facility that puts our staff as well as ongoing revenue at risk, the best decision is to suspend production.”

Some of the difficulties had been a result of Covid-19 supply chain problems which had delayed the arrival of new equipment and resulted in compliance failures. Another project to retrofit old compost growing facilities had not been as successful as hoped.

Ninety Te Mata Mushroom staff were informed in early September that they will be made redundant.

The company intends to establish a new state of the art facility in Central Hawke’s Bay, with a proposal pitched to the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council to move part of its mushroom facility to a new site with support from the Provincial Growth Fund. A resource consent is currently being processed and facility designs are being finalised.

John says the new Takapau site will be a world class facility housing the latest technology from the Netherlands. The move is also expected to create a significant number of jobs for the region.

“Our future location is best placed to be in Central Hawke’s Bay, which will bring economic benefits to the area as well as new jobs for local people,” John says. “We still plan, however, to be back growing mushrooms on our Brookvale facility using compost made at Takapau.”

Central Hawke’s Bay mayor Alex Walker welcomes the relocation and acknowledged the personal cost to workers in Brookvale.

“Te Mata Mushrooms’ proposed investment in Tamatea–Central Hawke’s Bay supports our economic development objectives for the district, including a focus on land diversification, innovation and a shift from a volume to value economy,” Alex says.

Te Mata Mushrooms will be engaging closely with the Takapau community and mana whenua to ensure they are kept informed during the consenting process and facility development.

The company remains the second largest mushroom producer in New Zealand, producing approximately 21 to 22 tonnes of mushrooms every week throughout the year.

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