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Organic NZ onions hit Europe

THE first ever shipment of organic New Zealand onions has arrived in Europe, and the Kiwi who grew them was on hand to check they travelled well.

Hawke’s Bay-based Bostock New Zealand exported the organic onions, as it moves to meet a growing demand for one of the world’s most popular vegetables.

Bostock owner John Bostock said there was a lot more labour and work required to grow organic onions.

“You cannot reach for the chemicals to spray the weeds,” Mr Bostock said.

“Organic onions are very challenging to grow. It’s a different mind and skill set altogether.

“We have to hand weed all our onions and we rely on expensive GPS technology to help with this weeding process,” Mr Bostock said.

During the growing season, the company has more than 200 staff weeding one onion paddock.

“The team will each have a little knife and be hand weeding every individual onion plant. It’s an intensive process having a whole field weeded by hand.

“There is so much care and nurture behind growing organic onions that people need to understand.”

Mr Bostock said no pesticide sprays were used at all.

“The love these onions receive is quite something and ultimately it means our organic onions are safer to eat because they are grown naturally.

“Consumers are becoming more aware of the use of chemicals on fresh produce, so we want to provide the safer organic alternative.”

Bostock organic growing manager Sam Reynolds was there to inspect the first container of exported organic onions.

It was exciting to open the container and see the quality of the onions was “extremely good”, Mr Reynolds said.

“They had been on the sea for six weeks, so we wanted to ensure that our European customers were receiving the highest quality, and the onions looked the same as they did when they left our packhouse in New Zealand.”

The Bostock team have met with other organic onion growers and service companies in Europe to build relationships and learn better growing techniques which they can apply in Hawke’s Bay.

Mr Bostock said: “There is a small but important overseas market window that New Zealand organic onions can fill in mid-April to mid-July every year.”

Bostock organic growing manager Sam Reynolds with the crop.
Look-over: The Bostock team inspecting their organic onions as they arrive in Europe — Kieran Halbert (left), Chris Zuiderwijk, Wouter Snippe, Sam Reynolds and Arend Lijnema. Pictures supplied