Business Profiles

Watties invest in pet food plant in revamp in Hastings

Wattie’s has completed a multi-million dollar upgrade of its Hastings pet food manufacturing site, positioning itself for future growth in the petfood industry.

The pet food manufacturing facility in Tomoana, Hastings produces one of New Zealand’s leading household cat food brands Chef® as well as its other pet food brands Gourmet®, Champ® and a range of pet food products for export.

The main focus of the upgrade was an investment in a new canning retort capability designed to increase reliability and productivity through state-of-the-art equipment that will underpin growth within the category by providing the means and space to substantially scale-up production.

Neil Heffer, Managing Director of Heinz Wattie’s Limited says the Tomoana facility upgrade is a reflection of a commitment to champion New Zealand made products and the benefits this brings to the local economy.

“Chef® is a pioneering brand that has been loved by Kiwis and their pets for more than 50 years. We are proud of the heritage of the Chef® brand and this significant investment in its future to know we will continue producing pet food for Kiwi cats and dogs for many years to come.”

The new $20 million facility increases the pet food manufacturing footprint by nearly 1650 square metres, with the ability to thermally process more than 15,000 cans an hour.

Over 10 main contractors and many more sub-contractors, design consultants and engineering experts local to Hawke’s Bay were engaged to complete the upgrade.  The range of local businesses involved included those in building construction, lighting, fire protection, and equipment design, installation, and commissioning.

The facility is a positive step for Wattie’s pet food manufacturing in Hastings. On a wider scale these types of investments help to provide a continuity of projects for local businesses within Hawke’s Bay.

According to information published by the New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, ‘64% of households own at least one companion animal, with a total pet population of 4.35 million. This is the second highest rate of pet ownership in the world.’

The upgrade to the Tomoana facility marks a new era of pet food production for Wattie’s which comes at a time when there are shortages of pet food, mainly due to global shipping delays, clearly impacting New Zealand.

The facility was officially opened by Hastings’ Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst on June 1, signifying the Council’s ongoing support of the facility and the future of pet food manufacturing in Hastings.

The significant investment supports the Council’s ambitions to help facilitate the growth of other businesses in Hawke’s Bay, bringing employment opportunities and further investment to the region.