HGA newsletter, Autumn 2004
In this issue we are visiting the orchard and business of Bev Taylor and Gordon Mounsey on the outskirts of Christchurch.
We bought our 11 ½ acres in 1990 and planted shelter trees. Over the next 5-6 years we planted the hazelnuts; Whiteheart with Alexandra and Merville de Bollwiller as their pollinators. We lost very few and the trees grew.
When they started producing nuts we found there was a shortage of processing units. We joined Ted Kempe, Bob and Grace Laing and Roger Rose in forming “Associated Nut Harvesters”, using Ted’s equipment at Amberley. This worked quite well for 3-4 years. We then disbanded this company. Ted continued north of Christchurch and we developed “Divine Taste of Canterbury”. Divine Taste has a small nutcracker that we use when we have groups on site. Most of the cracking is done by the Hazelnut Company Ltd. As I have found it a labour intensive activity.
Marketing is very select and Niche oriented. In the past we have targeted the supermarkets and to do this you need bar codes and good labelling. We maintain these markets but have not recently expanded in the supermarkets. A distributor may be necessary if we are to do so.
More rewarding financially is the value added products we do. The most popular is Dukkah followed by caramelized hazelnuts. I have worked with a chocolatier and two chefs – Phillipe Meyer (from Celia Hay Cooking School) and Mhairi Maxwell. We have experimented with a range of products. Now I supply gift boxes and boutique shops. I make up the products in packaging and price to suit.
After fourteen years we are in profit from our hazelnuts. Divine Taste has people on site by invitation and we have a selection of Canterbury products which they can buy ex. Kernelz walnuts, NZ kelp and Canterbury olive oils. Hazelnuts have introduced us to a wide variety of people from chefs and journalists as well as growers and nurserymen. We have found this rewarding and interesting.