Bay of Plenty post-harvest operator Trevelyan’s Pack and Cool is taking worker wellbeing seriously. The company recently released a detailed report on how it is caring for its seasonal workers, in response to reports that workers are being exploited in the wider kiwifruit sector.
The spotlight has been on packhouse pay and conditions amid a seasonal labour shortage. But Trevelyan’s executive director Alister Hawkey says the industry has been mis-represented.
He cited information in the fourth of the annual Sustainability Report the company commissions, released in June.
“The report is an in-depth look at our economic, social and environmental performance in 2017 and a huge part of that is detailing the steps we take to respect and look after our people,” said Hawkey.
Trevelyan’s annual staff satisfaction survey showed 98 percent of permanent staff reported either medium or high job satisfaction – a trend that has been steadily rising over the past four years.
The report outlines Trevelyan’s efforts to promote staff wellness, which includes running “The Front Row” programme in association with All Blacks’ strength and conditioning coach, Nic Gill.
Healthy eating is also a priority and Trevelyan’s has introduced a nutritious salad and vegetable bar at their on-site café to benefit employees, and regularly organise fun run/walks and wellness information sessions to help care for staff.
“The recent media reports have presented a very narrow view of the kiwifruit industry,” he said. “The fact is, our packhouses are a nice place to work. The staff facilities are excellent. Our staff have a great time here and many don’t want the packing season to come to an end.”
Hawkey says there are huge career opportunities in the industry across many areas like HR, accountancy, engineering, plus science roles in laboratory and mapping teams and IT roles including data analysis and programming.
“Our seasonal roles are also many and varied – packing, stacking, grading, strapping, forklifts, logistics, data management, sampling and other quality roles.
“This enables us to place people where we feel they will do well or give them some variety. We have a whole lot of things going on in our company to help people achieve whatever they want to achieve.”
The kiwifruit and avocado industries are undergoing remarkable growth, with new orchard developments and great financial returns.
Trevelyan’s says its average Orchard Gate Return (OGR) per hectare is 12 percent above the industry average for its growers for both Hayward and SunGold conventional kiwifruit.
Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney says the report is a welcome window into the kiwifruit industry.
“We’re really pleased to see some of the excellent employment and sustainability initiatives underway at Trevelyan’s highlighted and quantified here.”
The report also looks at the company’s sustainability outcomes. Trevelyan’s sustainability co-ordinator Rachel Brodie says the concept of sustainability is now mainstream and the annual report was a great way for people to get to know the company better.
She says Trevelyan’s has now achieved a 62 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to its base levels recorded in 2010, with new technology and refrigerant gasses promising to drop that level even further.
“We want to share our successes, but we also want to share our challenges. Some of our biggest challenges are industry-shared opportunities that we need to start working on. This report is a great way of starting a conversation with our growers and suppliers.”