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Investing in South Canterbury

South Canterbury is an exciting region for business and is recognised in New Zealand as a progressive, modern place for investment. 

The South Canterbury economy is strongly influenced by its agricultural heritage and today agriculture in the district is diverse, with dairying having a significant impact. Increasing irrigation offers farmers a greater range of options for production – including intensive cropping, meat, wool and dairy. The fishing industry, manufacturing and established further processing facilities add value to these sectors. South Canterbury has long been known as "the food bowl" of the wider Canterbury area.

The South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce nurtures two cluster groups – The Export Cluster and the Primary Produce Innovation Cluster – focused on facilitating growth and value add to primary produce while enhancing and developing a strong exporting business community and providing support the importing community.

Significant investment is being made primarily based around agricultural added value manufacturing and processing. Examples include:

Heartland Potato Chips

Heartland Potato Chips was formed by Orari potato growers Raymond and Adrianne Bowan to process their potatoes into crisps at the former Bluebird factory. The factory closure in February 2009 had a huge effect on the Bowans business, the Bowans grow potatoes at Fallgate Farms near Orari. They were one of the main suppliers to the Bluebird factory also supplying Mr. Chips and Talley's. The Bowans refurbished the empty factory in November 2009.

Buying the factory gave them another market for their potatoes and the chance to take their product all the way from paddock to supermarket shelf.
The South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce and the Timaru District Council were hugely supportive of their decision to buy the factory. Part of the reason for beginning Heartland Potato Chips was to re-ignite a proud heritage in our region for making quality potato chips.

In February 2017 the family business installed new equipment and launched a range of premium crafted kettle chips in four flavours. This adds to the firm's six-flavour wave cut range, produced since the factory started in 2010, and its flat cut category introduced in 2015.

The company supplies Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs supermarkets throughout New Zealand, and exports to Singapore and Brisbane in Australia. They also supply other local companies for french fries. The potatoes are fresh from January to the end of May and then stored for use over winter.

Smithfield Venison Plant

The Alliance Group produces very high quality meat products from lamb, sheep, cattle, deer and veal, sourced from its shareholders under extensive free-range farming practices. The company's products are enjoyed by discerning consumers in 65 countries throughout the world. The chain commences on the farms of the company's 5500 shareholders, who supply more than 85% of the livestock processed.

Alliance Smithfield Timaru opened a new multimillion-dollar venison processing plant in January 2012, following the announcement that Alliance Group's Sockburn plant would close at the end of that year's processing season.

Smithfield has never processed venison, only sheep and lamb. To cater for the extra work, an estimated 50 staff are employed. The increase means a total of 540 staff would be employed during the peak season.

The project was a positive move for Smithfield. "With as much empathy as we have for people up in Sockburn, it's definitely good for the plant and good for us."
Most of the venison processed at Smithfield will be sent to Europe, and a smaller amount sent to the United States.

Farmers Mill

State-of-the-art mill manufactures flour and speciality grains
Opened 30th May 2013

Farmers Mill Co-operative is a manufacturer and marketer of flour and speciality grains grown in the South Island and milled in Timaru. Owned by 12 South Island farmers, the Co-operative is the only independent grower-owned and operated flour producer in the country enabling manufacturers to pass on the promise to customers of being New Zealand made. Producing 28,000MT of flour annually, the mill uses advanced equipment to manufacture the best flour in a highly competitive market. Farmers Mill grain ensures the best quality and the best value - right from the paddock to plate.

"The new milling equipment is state-of-the-art and not seen before in New Zealand. It is designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard than the older equipment. The mill will produce premium biscuit, baking and bread flours to the specifications for high-end customers. We grow our grain in the heart of the South Island of New Zealand, and mill through a co-operative to ensure the best quality and the best value - right from the paddock to plate"

The new $10 million flour mill built in Timaru has been welcomed by Federated Farmers' grain and seed section. “The significance of it cannot be underestimated and it is extremely positive news for farmers who absolutely welcome the opportunity to support a local initiative."

Quick Facts:
  • Farmers Mill is the only flour in New Zealand that makes 100% New Zealand flour
  • Accountability from Paddock to Plate
  • Producing high quality flour milled on state of the art European equipment
  • Flour processing capacity is six to seven tonnes per hour
  • Annual production will exceed 28,000 tonnes
  • Farmers Mill produces flour for food manufacturers throughout New Zealand

Fonterra Clandeboye

Fonterra Clandeboye is one of Fonterra’s second largest manufacturing sites in the South Island. The site can process up to 12.4 million litres of milk per day, and annually more than 40 per cent of all milk collected by the co-operative in the South Island.

As one of New Zealand’s oldest manufacturing sites still in operation, Clandeboye has acquired the most extensive transport fleet in the country; laboratory testing facilities for the entire South Island; and one of the largest manufacturing teams in New Zealand.

Clandeboye’s resources allow it to produce around 381,000mt of milk powder, cream, cheese and protein products every year.
More than 10,000 containers are filled each year ready to be shipped around New Zealand as well as exported to more than 50 countries including the United States, China, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia and Australia.

Quick Facts
  • Milk processing capacity (peak)
    • 12.4 million litres per day
  • Annual production – 381,000mt
    • 250,000 mt whole milk powder and skim milk powder
    • 80,000 mt cream products
    • 59,000 mt cheese products
    • 21,500 mt protein products
  • 825 staff
  • Nine plants, including three milk powder, two cream, two cheese and two protein plants
  • The largest drier,D3, an produce 25 mt of milk powder per hour
  • 217 containers filled every week
  • 75 tankers, each with a capacity for carting 25,500 litres of milk
  • The laboratory conducted 611,044 tests for the 2010-2011 season.

South Pacific Sera

Located near Timaru South Pacific Sera (established by William and John Rolleston) produces top quality donor animal blood, serum and protein products for use in therapeutic, cell culture, microbiology and immunology applications around the world, and has operated in the biologicals field since 1988, building up an international reputation for quality, and service. They are also a GMP contract manufacturer (OEM) with capabilities in cell culture, sterile filtration, protein purification, vial filling and freeze drying.

With an extensive base of established products and capabilities, South Pacific Sera is constantly seeking new ways to be at the forefront of this progressive industry.

Geographical isolation, climate and good border protection has enabled New Zealand to remain free of many significant diseases affecting animals. These factors will continue to ensure New Zealand remains the ideal site to source products, where quality and pureness are essential.
South Pacific Sera operates from a large farming estate comprising 4,000 hectares and more than 12,000 animals. This gives the company control of its animals and allows animal groups to be run in isolation if required.

All serum, plasma and raw blood production is carried out on site. Processing facilities include animal bleeding facilities, large centrifuges, a clean room suite and small scale processing and filtration. The equipment washing and sterilisation facilities ensure low endotoxin levels in the product.
South Pacific Sera's animals, farm and facilities are inspected by MAF (The New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture) on a regular basis and the company is licensed to export throughout the world.

The Timaru area with its strong agricultural base is well suited to South Pacific Sera's operations and is supplemented by a sophisticated food manufacturing and fermentation infrastructure. The area also has international freight links through Christchurch International Airport and the Port of Timaru providing direct sea and air services to Asia, North America and Europe. The company employs just over 50 people.

William Rolleston is also the vice-president of Federated Farmers, a past chairman of biotechnology industry association Biotenz, an Aoraki Development Business and Tourism director, and chair of the Life Sciences Network, which advocates science-based regulation for genetic modification and the chair of the new Ministry of Science and Innovation’s innovation.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon

A $6 million salmon-processing factory in Timaru has been commissioned by Mt Cook Alpine Salmon.

The factory will initially bring 35 new jobs to the city and a further 40 to follow as the company expanded its production and an added-value smoke house was commissioned in three to four years.

The site, in Sheffield St, was chosen after an extensive 12-month search and planning process. Commissioning of the plant was also bringing jobs back onshore.
"Currently, 80 per cent of our export production has secondary processing in Indonesia. However, bringing jobs back onshore is not without its challenges. The challenge for us as a company is to upskill our workforce to meet, and ideally exceed, the exacting standards that we currently obtain from our world-class processor, BMI, in Indonesia," Mr Matthews said.

Commissioning the plant was a "vote of confidence" in a New Zealand workforce. It was designed to process, at full capacity, 3500 metric tonnes of harvested fish a year. The company, which is more than halfway through a $20 million expansion, recently became the first aquaculture facility in Australasia to receive the Global Aquaculture Alliance's best aquaculture practice certification for sustainable farming.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon chairman Jim Bolger, described as not only a tremendous achievement for the company, but also a "significant moment" for New Zealand aquaculture in general.

Waipopo Orchards

South Canterbury orchardists are planting tens of thousands of trees to prepare for a massive expansion in apple growing major expansion was confirmed in the middle of 2012. The project could see 200 extra harvesters employed in the region within the next five years.

Honeycrisp New Zealand co-director Peter Bennett said the project involved several different growers, including Waipopo Orchards and MA Orchards.
“It’s only been very recently that we’ve been able to get the investors and growers on board; it’s taken several years to get everything into place,” he said.
During the next four weeks, more than 50,000 trees would be planted at separate orchards in South Canterbury for growing honeycrisp apples.

“We’re on to something quite special here. The development will be done in stages, but once we’re in full production, we’re looking at an extra 200 or more harvesters in the region.”

Honeycrisp New Zealand was licensed to grow the apple by the University of Minnesota. “South Canterbury’s cold climate appears to be ideally suited for growing this apple,” he said. “Research shows it only grows on the 45th parallel in the southern hemisphere, which limits it to New Zealand and South America,” he said.
“It’s quite the cult item in the United States. People seem to really appreciate its texture and sweetness. It’s extremely juicy and it doesn’t go brown like other apples.”

Although there had been growing operations already established in Central Otago, the two South Canterbury sites – 19 hectares at Kerrytown, and 16ha at Seadown – would cover the greatest area in the country. “Between us and the Makikihi site, South Canterbury comprises 95 per cent of the sites where it’s grown; we should really see the impacts of this within the next three years,” Mr Bennett said.

“The apple sells at nearly twice the price of any of its competitors. That’s how popular it is. We shipped the first South Canterbury grown batch to the United States last season. The response was amazing.”

New Zealand Light Leathers

New Zealand’s largest deerskin tanner at Washdyke, near Timaru, is investing $3 million into expanding its factory floor in 2012 to handle an influx of deerskins and cow hides from major meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF). SFF has reached an agreement with New Zealand Light Leathers (NZLL) to process about 220,000 cattle hides and 100,000 deerskins from the South Island each year.

Much of this leather will be headed for the upmarket fashion houses of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, MaxMara and Hermes.

The tannery is upgrading its machinery and extending equipment to cattle hides, which it has processed only on a small scale over the last few years.
NZLL managing director Neil Dickson said the tannery was expanding the factory to accept the larger intake of skins and hides. He said the factory’s core business had been in manufacturing finished luxury products from deerskin, but had always been commissioned processors.

At peak processing NZLL expects it will add another 20 to 25 factory staff and more management.

The business is currently running a team of 80 staff for the peak intake of cow hides with the peak for deerskins to come in November and December.
“We can now process all hides and skins in the South Island, thereby decreasing the environmental impact of trucking hides to the North Island and NZLL has the opportunity to increase their output and expand their business, which is good for the South Canterbury community.”

Hides are sold to international markets including the United States, Italy, Japan and China and end up in the world’s major fashion houses.
Car manufacturer Toyota Lexus in Japan is another major customer of SFF hides.

NZLL will continue with processing its own deerskins and manufacturing them into finished products such as shoes and bags.


Juice Products New Zealand Ltd

Juice Products New Zealand Limited is a New Zealand owned and operated processor of vegetable and fruit juice concentrate based in Timaru, South Canterbury.

South Canterbury is a vast cropping and farming region with an abundance of fertile land in the South Island of New Zealand. It allows JPNZ direct access to quality fresh fruits and vegetables.

The main business is processing raw carrots into carrot juice concentrate of which 95% is exported. Other products currently produced at JPNZ include blackcurrant concentrate and a range of apricot, cherry and plum purees, varietal grape juice concentrates and special fruit blends, beetroot concentrate, broccoli puree and juice concentrate, celery juice concentrate and other vegetables purees.
Juice Products New Zealand in committed to:
  • Offer quality products through quality raw materials and a “State of the Art” facility.
  • Work alongside growers and seed suppliers to improve yields on farm and consistency in quality.
  • Continuously develop new products to meet our customers’ needs
  • Reduce our impact on the environment by recycling water, using renewable & recyclable packaging, minimize waste, reducing energy use & reduce emissions
Juice Product New Zealand growth has outstripped the capacity of their Washdyke in-house boiler and the company are joining with the Washdyke energy centre Energy for Industry (see below). Pipe work will be completed by March 2013.

The company has almost doubled its production since it started processing carrot juice in 2008. Growers from Rakia to Waimate are contracted to the company to produce more than 600ha, 60,000 tonnes of carrots, an increase on the 4,000 tonnes average production in 2008. South Canterbury carrot growers were very supportive in taking up a cash crop that wasn’t there five or ten years ago. The juice is sold to about ten companies in Japan and companies in the United States, Australia and South East Asia. New markets are being investigated and new product lines are to be introduced. Juice Products continue to add value to a raw commodity adding to the capital development of New Zealand’s export growth.


Unlimited opportunity and strong proven support in South Canterbury. Check Industrial Hub , Foodbowl and Construction Industry partners
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