In a joint venture with its subsidiary Delica, T&G aims to set up asparagus production on 40ha in the Waikato region on the North Island.
The venture will be known as Mystery Creek Asparagus Ltd, with production managed by Boyd’s Asparagus, New Zealand’s largest grower of the vegetable.
Exporting and international marketing will be managed by Delica, the company said, with the focus on Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.
T&G said production at the site would increase to a peak of 300 tonnes annually within the next four years, and will grow the Jersey Giant variety common in New Zealand.
“This is a fantastic new investment in what has been an industry that has been shrinking,” said Alastair Hulbert, Delica’s general manager.
“With Boyd’s growing skills, Delica’s exporting expertise and the backing of the country’s largest horticultural company, Turners & Growers, we are making a strong commitment to the Waikato region and to growing the industry.”
The project represents a vote of confidence in the asparagus sector from one of the country’s leading fresh produce entities at a time when the industry has been on the decline.
Horticulture New Zealand predicted last year asparagus acreage in the country could decline by as much as 84 per cent by 2014 if the trend wasn’t reversed.
That decline has, in large part, been a result of the loss of Japanese market share to lower-priced asparagus from Australia and Peru, which respectively overlap the early and late parts of New Zealand's season.
“We have demand from high-end niche customers who prefer the taste of New Zealand Asparagus,” Mr Hulbert told Fruitnet.com.
“Also our main advantage over Peru especially is time to market; from harvest to delivery to customer we can have asparagus with the customer 48 hours after harvest, greatly enhancing freshness and taste over our competition.”
The majority of New Zealand’s asparagus production is located in Hawke’s Bay and the Waikato, with the season starting around August.