Established in 1967, the Te Mata Mushroom Company has become something of an institution in Havelock North. Te Mata produces New Zealand’s only Vitamin D mushrooms in a unique fully compostable tray and also offers premium pre-pack products.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
"The first mushroom crop on the Brookfield Road farm was harvested from a boat shed in 1967; just a small part of the overall cropping operation run by newly formed Te Mata Nursery, a partnership between the Speeden and Hawley families. Back then, when Martin Speeden, the farm’s current general manager and head grower was still a spritely teenager, there were 56 mushroom farms in New Zealand, and Te Mata was one of six mushroom farms in the Hawkes Bay region alone. By 1973 all other crops were phased out and in 1990 the company’s name officially changed to Te Mata Mushrooms Ltd.
Fast forward 49 years and the farm is now one of the six remaining mushroom farms nationwide. Purchased in 2012 by local businessman Michael Whittaker, both of the original founding families were still represented until Chris Hawley’s retirement in mid-2015."
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
"The Te Mata Mushroom Company currently grow white button and portabello mushrooms in a range of 250g premium pre-packs in unique fully compostable trays; 400-500g value bags and bulk cartons. The company’s flagship product is New Zealand’s only Vitamin D mushrooms. Produced by boosting mushroom’s natural Vitamin D creation capabilities with a high-intensity light source after harvest, eating just two to three Vitamin D mushrooms can provide the daily recommended dietary intake of Vitamin D, as well as all the usual goodness that mushrooms provide."
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
"Now producing over 20 tonnes of mushrooms and 100 tonnes of compost each week, Te Mata is the second largest mushroom farm in New Zealand with mushroom growing rooms and have plans to introduce new growing and harvesting technology as well as increase production in the medium term. The business operates seven days a week, 364 days a year and employs around 110 staff, all from its original site in Havelock North."
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
"The Te Mata Mushroom Company’s mushrooms are available in selected North Island New World, Pak ‘n’ Save and Four Square stores, as well as through wholesalers and independent retailers."