Sofresh started shipping brown onions to Europe and Japan in 1993. In 1998 we started exporting red onions with the introduction of the proprietary Stoplight variety in 2007.
Our markets for both red and brown onions have expanded over the years to now include Europe, Japan, North Asia, South East Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands
Sofresh is known globally for providing a reliable supply of outstanding quality onions that meet/ exceed our customers demanding specifications.
PLKThe traditional New Zealand brown cooking onions. The Pukekohe Long Keeper is renown as a hard, pungent and long storing variety.
HybridsDutch and Japanese bred hybrids form a significant part of our growing programme ensuring extended harvest periods to provide early and late supply. These hybrids also provide increased size bulbs for supply into specialist programmes for our customers.
Red onionsWe are the leading NZ exporter of red onions to European and Asian markets. Our own variety – Stoplight – sets the standard for red onions shipped from the southern hemisphere. Stoplight red onions are known for their good storage, round bulb shape and superior dark red internal and external colour, which makes them ideal for adding variety to salads and meals.
Onion growing locations
Our onions are produced in three regions of New Zealand - Pukekohe and Matamata in the North Island and Canterbury in the South Island. Each area has unique characteristics which combined with the geographical spread gives security of crop supply to our customers.
- Where commercial crops of onions were first grown in New Zealand. Home of the famous Pukekohe Long Keeper onion. Pukekohe is especially fertile and productive due to the volcanic nature of the region's soil. Headquarters of Southern Fresh Produce Limited (Sofresh)
- Nestled at the base of the beautiful Kaimai Ranges, the Matamata town is surrounded by rich, fertile land ideal for dairy farming, horticulture, and the thoroughbred racing industry. The free draining, sandy loam soil and even climate was attractive to Pukekohe onion growers who moved some of their production to the area nearly 20 years ago as rising land prices and urban sprawl restricted the supply of suitable land in South Auckland.
- Situated in New Zealand's South Island, the Canterbury Plains is an area of braided rivers and pastoral perfection between the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean. As flat as a billiard table, the plains are a patchwork of agricultural activity that includes onion production. Soils are generally sandy or silt loams and irrigation is essential in this part of NZ for successful cropping.
Onion growing, harvesting & shipping
Our onions form part of a complex crop rotation, ensuring soils are kept free of diseases and rich in nutrients. Onion beds are formed following the harvest of the previous crop in the rotation. These beds are typically formed at the end of our summer and then soils are given a chance to rest prior to planting of the new crops.
Depending on the variety crops are seeded during the New Zealand winter - June, July and August. Crops are drilled to a density designed to produce the bulb sizes required by each market.
As the crop grows, agronomists monitor weed, disease and insect pressure and ensure that spraying is only carried out when necessary. Growing to maturity takes between seven and eight months.
Prior to complete top fall the onions are lifted. Timing of this operation is important to ensure good skin retention. Depending on weather conditions onions are left to dry in the field for between 14 and 28 days.
Once dried the crop is harvested into boxes and then stored to finish the curing process. It is normally at least three weeks after harvest before the onions are ready for packing.
In the pack-houses onions are accurately screen sized and carefully inspected by eye. Accredited staff carry out quality inspections to ensure that only the best product is shipped. Product can be packed in nets, big bags, bulk containers or boxes to serve each customer's requirements.
We use the best shipping options to each market - reefer containers, ventilated containers and ventilated break bulk vessels.