George Weston beefs up capacity


George Weston Foods is investing more than $5 million in new plant and equipment for its Wiri factory in Auckland, the home of Big Ben Pies.

The investment is to enable the company to meet anticipated demand for its expanding range of pies and sausage rolls including two new products to be launched by the end of this month.

The factory, which employs more than 100 people, supplies Big Ben pies, as well as the Tip Top Hamburger Buns and Burgen Gluten Free bread, to supermarkets, petrol stations, dairies, canteens, andcafeterias throughout New Zealand.

Last June, the company launched Big Ben El Mexicano, which now accounts for 24 per cent of unit sales of Big Ben’s XXL brand.

Encouraged by that success, George Weston looked at other opportunities to innovate and at what demands that would place on its existing capacity.

“Innovation is essential, even for a food category as traditional as pies,” said Mark Adam, New Zealand GM for George Weston Foods.

“You can attribute Big Ben’s continuing strong performance in a hotly contested category to our willingness to try new ideas that we believe will prove popular with consumers.”

Following extensive market research the company decided to add butter chicken and lasagna pies to its Big Ben XXL range.

“Butter chicken is New Zealand’s most popular Indian dish, and when we asked Big Ben customers, 62 per cent told us they loved the idea of a butter chicken pie. We think Big Ben Butter Chicken XXL will be a winner.”

The choice of a second pie wasn’t so obvious.

“We know that Kiwis look online for food ideas and we discovered that lasagne was the seventh most searched for recipe in New Zealand,” said  Adam.

“We think Kiwis will really connect with this one: it’s made to a traditional Kiwi recipe – with real beef, and lots of it.”


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