A Whangārei berries producer is expanding its operation in the hopes of tapping into growing demand for year-round supply of fresh fruit.
Maungatapere Berries is partnering with local iwi Ngāpuhi and Far North District Council's commercial arm to build a new 28 hectare site in Kaikohe, which is north of the company's existing operation.
Company co-founder Patrick Malley said consumers' changing needs had prompted the move.
"We're seeing demand across the calendar, rather than just in certain peak months, for people to have access to good, healthy, safe, fresh, and affordable produce," he said.
Malley hoped the expansion would eventually generate 80 full-time jobs and 120 for seasonal employees.
"We've seen an opportunity to expand our operation to help deliver that but also in the same vein be able to deliver some other benefits to the Northland region, particularly in around the Kaikohe region, for investment and jobs and employment," he said.
Malley expected the extended hydroponic berries season would allow time to help train workers for long-term horticultural careers, which could draw in more seasonal workers looking for further opportunities.
He said the development of the first 10 hectares of the site was underway, with some hydroponic growing systems completed during winter. The first production of Maungatapere Berries raspberries and blackberries were due to start at the Kaikohe site in November this year.
Those 10 hectares would be grown for the New Zealand market, but Malley said it had potential to develop export opportunities.