Helping keep New Zealand fed
Wattie’s factories in Hawke’s Bay, Christchurch and Auckland have been working as never before to help keep supermarkets stocked in their efforts to satisfy consumer demand in these unprecedented times of the Covid-19 crisis. In its 86th year of operation, the country’s largest canning plant in Hastings is working 24/7, establishing new record production volumes.
At the same time, the country’s largest tomato harvesting and processing season was underway in Hawke’s Bay. Harvesting started on February 21 and continued to April 22. With social distancing requirements extending to the fields, the job of harvest operators was very lonely with 12-hour shifts.
Wattie’s first priority is the health and safety of its employees and has implemented strict protocols for all operations. Managing Director Neil Heffer says in all this activity the single highest priority is keeping people safe.
“Our people have been magnificent in adapting to the new protocols which range from the changeover of shifts, social distancing in the operating areas (and screens on production lines where that is not possible), to seating arrangements in the cafeteria.”
“Our people there and in the other plants have been amazing, and we take our hats off to them. They have had to deal with altered family situations, households in lockdown and new workplace protocols, and they come to work eager to do what they can."
“There is a sense of caution, given the current Covid-19 situation however, people understand and respect the safety measures in place,” Heffer says.