Watties Plan Big Rise In Washdyke Output
Production at J. Wattie Canneries’ Washdyke factory in the coming year is expected to be almost double that of the last year, in itself a record.
This year, production was expected to rise to 12,000 tons, the branch manager, Mr B.F. Davidson, said yesterday. He said that in the first year of production after the purchase from D.J. Haigh and Co. Ltd, the Washdyke factory had produced a record 7000 tons, 1000 tons more than the previous record set by Haighs in the 1971-72 year.
Mr Davidson said the arrival this week of a full consignment of dehydration machinery from Australia marked a further stage in the development of the Wattie enterprise in South Canterbury, following the installation of a potato crisp line a few weeks ago.
He said that with the first year of production a record, and the prospect of spectacular advances in the coming season, it was now possible to assess the full impact of a continuing Watties investment on the economy of South Canterbury.
Mr Davidson made a confident forecast that crop revenue payable to South Canterbury growers next season would amount to $500,000, while a further $500,000 would be paid in wages at the Washdyke plant.
“But this is by no means the whole story,” said Mr Davidson. “Service industries in Timaru also benefit from our activities – we are, for example, the district’s biggest user of electric power.”
“We provide permanent job opportunities for both male and female labour, and in the full flush of the season there is work for university students and senior secondary school pupils.”
Mentioning the estimated production this year of 12,000 tons, he said that about 15 per cent of this increase would be due to the new dehydration process. About 200 growers would supply vegetables, mainly peas, to the factory and the area of 5000 acres was an increase of one-third on last year.
Mr Davidson said that staff requirements would also increase this season and at the peak time the Wattie operation would provide 250 jobs, an increase of 100 on last year.
Of last year’s frozen products, half was for export and about 3000 tons was shipped from Timaru. This will be increased by the dehydration operation over a wide range of vegetables because this is a totally export-oriented development.
The dehydration equipment, packed in nine huge containers, arrived at Lyttelton in the Hawea earlier this week and was brought by road to Timaru to be cleared, by the Customs Department here.
Its removal from a site near Melbourne and packing for shipment was supervised by Mr Vaughan Davies, of Timaru, an engineer with J. Wattie Canneries.
The plant which includes a three-section oven 90ft long, will be installed on the site already marked out on the factory floor and it is expected that it will be in operation by December.
“The introduction of the new process will greatly add to the local content in our export trade,” said Mr Davidson. “It will also allow us to seek out markets where for various reasons, such as the standard of living in developing countries, domestic refrigeration is not the commonplace amenity that it is in New Zealand.”
Mr Davidson added that new mechanical aids would facilitate harvesting next season. There [These] included two new $40,000 Hammercheck, self-propelled viners.
These ingenious machines, the first Watties have used in New Zealand, make it possible for the whole harvesting operation of the pea crop, including podding, to be carried out in the field.
There was also a mechanical carrot harvester, which would be used for the first time in the South Island. Mr Davidson said that this present announcement followed the visit to the Timaru plant earlier this week of Mr Gordon Wattie, managing director of Wattie Industries, Mr Ray Wattie, managing director of J. Wattie Canneries, and Mr Colin White, Christchurch manager of J. Wattie Canneries.
“It is with pride and pleasure that I report on our first year of operation and the programme of vigorous expansion that lies ahead of us,” said Mr Davidson. “It is clear that both J. Wattie Canneries Ltd and the people of South Canterbury will benefit from what has already proved to be a mutually fruitful partnership.”
“I am delighted”, said the Development and Public Relations Officer for South Canterbury, Mr David Hall, commenting on the result of the first year’s operation of the Wattie enterprise in South Canterbury. “These remarkable figures justify not only the action of Watties in moving into the area, but also the confidence of those who welcomed their arrival.”
Mr Hall referred to the operation as a practical exercise in regional development. It was a classic example of that concept of development which was based on the use of local resources, which in the case of South Canterbury, was chiefly its primary produce, he said.
Photo caption – Mr B.F. Davidson