The Hazelnut Company was established in 1998 by a small group of enthusiastic hazelnut growers to serve as a co-operative business venture. The company now has in excess of 100 grower shareholders, spread throughout the South Island and the lower half of the North Island, New Zealand. The majority of shareholder growers have planted the NZ developed “Whiteheart” cultivar tree which grows well in our climate and is free of major pests and diseases. The Whiteheart produces a creamy white coloured nut with a delicious flavour. Larger nuts, including those from pollinator trees are used for table nuts and will form part of the overall development for value added products, including pressing for hazelnut oil.
Resources, knowledge, and skills are shared amongst growers to ensure that grower efficiency and productivity is maximized. Hazelz New Zealand is fully owned and administered by New Zealand grower/shareholders. Testing in 2001 led to the development of a prototype commercial nut cracker. This cracker, using modern “roller” technology, tested out very positively both for efficiency and quality kernel extraction (viz-a-viz imported machinery). Capable of cracking up to 400kg per hour the full scale machinery and new factory will be a major factor in enhancing the viability of the New Zealand hazelnut industry. The company’s processing /marketing facilities is located in the Selwyn District near Kirwee and Darfield. All of the company's equipment has been sourced and manufactured here in New Zealand. The bulk of hazelnuts currently being used in New Zealand are imported (about 250 tonnes annually) and it is a company objective to eventually see these imports totally replaced.
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