First New Zealand export organic onions arrive in Europe

Bostock Team inspecting their organic onions as they arrive in Europe. (From left to right) Kieran Halbert (Bostock Growing Team), Chris Zuiderwijk (Bostock Growing Manager), Wouter Snippe (We Grow Organics), Sam Reynolds (Bostock Organic Growing Manager), Arend Lijnema (We Grow Organics)
Bostock Team inspecting their organic onions as they arrive in Europe. (From left to right) Kieran Halbert (Bostock Growing Team), Chris Zuiderwijk (Bostock Growing Manager), Wouter Snippe (We Grow Organics), Sam Reynolds (Bostock Organic Growing Manager), Arend Lijnema (We Grow Organics) Photo credit: Supplied

New Zealand's very first export organic onions have arrived in Europe - and the kiwi exporter who grew them was there to open the container for the historical moment.

New Zealand Grower, Bostock New Zealand, has exported organic onions for the first time as it moves to meet the growing demand for one of the world's most popular vegetables.

Bostock New Zealand Owner John Bostock said there was a lot more labour and work required to grow organic onions, as controlling weeds with chemicals wasn't an option.

"Organic onions are very challenging to grow. It's a different mind and skill set altogether," he said.

"We have to hand weed all our onions and we rely on expensive GPS technology to help with this weeding process," said Bostock.

Over 200 staff weed one onion paddock at the necessary time during the season. 

"It's an intensive process having a whole field weeded by hand. There is so much care and nurture behind growing organic onions that people need to understand."

Bostock Organic Growing Manager Sam Reynolds
Bostock Organic Growing Manager Sam Reynolds Photo credit: Supplied

Bostock Organic Growing Manager Sam Reynolds is currently in Europe with some of the Bostock team. 

He was there to inspect the first container of organic export onions.

"It was very exciting to open the container and see that the quality of our Bostock Organic Onions was extremely good," he said.

"They had been on the sea for six weeks, so we wanted to ensure that our European customers were receiving the highest quality New Zealand organic onions," said Reynolds.

"We were so pleased to open the container and see our onions, looking the same as they did when they left our packhouse in New Zealand."

The Bostock team are meeting with other organic onion growers and service companies in Europe to build relationships and learn better growing techniques which they can apply in Hawke's Bay.

"We've visited some of the world's leading organic onion growers who are extremely transparent and have shared a lot of knowledge. We've picked up a lot of little tips and tricks that will refine our growing techniques bringing costs down and quality up. 

"We've gained a better understanding of market requirements both in terms of quality and timing. There is a small but important overseas market window that New Zealand organic onions can fill in mid-April to mid-July every year."

Mr Bostock said the company was committed to increasing its organic footprint and is increasing its organic onion production.

"We need to ensure that our organic growing team is equipped with all the necessary skills required to grow the best organic onions in the world. Investing in technology and innovation is so important."

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