“Several families have more than one generation involved in the business.”
Supplying thousands of tonnes of lettuce, broccoli and silverbeet to one of New Zealand’s largest supermarket chains and other customers is hugely labour-intensive. Stuart Davis, General Manager of Sutherland Produce, a large growing operation on the Bombay Hills, is very aware of their importance to the local labour market.
“Over 40 years of operation the company has had loyal staff and provided a start in employment for members of many local families,” he says. “That continues today with several staff with over 15 years service and several families having more than one generation involved in the business.”
With over 60 full-time staff and a large harvest workforce predominantly originating from Samoa, Stuart and his management team are acutely aware of their responsibility not only to these individuals, but also their families and communities both in the local region and in the Pacific Islands.
“We have to be 100% confident in the chemistry we’re applying to our crops,” says Stuart. “There’s a lot depending on it being effective, and we also need to know that it won’t pose any unforeseen issues for the environment or our customers. The role of agchem products is critical to the success of our operation. There have definitely been issues with some products that we’re aware of, that’s why we stick to reputable companies who provide technical back-up.”
Proven performance is what Stuart’s looking for, along with good technical expertise and multi-national backing. “BASF are leaders in the agchem industry from a technical perspective. They have good people with great knowledge of the hort industry and how their chemistry fits in to our operation. They’re always one of our go-tos,” he insists.
It’s that confidence that allows Sutherlands to continue doing what it does so successfully – producing large quantities of wholesome fresh vegetables for the local market.