Masterton soup mix still going strong
As the cold weather kicks in Kiwis gravitate towards their tried and trusted soups, but not many know that one of the staple old fashioned soups of New Zealand households is made in Wairarapa.
Hansells Masterton Ltd is a 75 per cent locally owned company that creates products for many well known brands, one of the classics being King’s Soup Mix.
With a pea, barley and stock mix that is contract packaged at the Opaki Road plant, it is one of those base mixtures that many of us grew up with.
Hansells has been making the soup mix on site for the last thirty years since they bought the brand off Dunedin’s Lane Latimer in 1987.
Technical manager Malcolm McDonald said King soup is a product that sells especially well when it’s cold so it’s not a bad thing for Hansells when the temperature plummets over winter.
These soups are often used as a base with other ingredients such as ham hocks or more vegetables added.
It is cooked over a low heat for several hours on the stove or crockpot. Sports teams and clubs often use these types of soups to feed large groups, McDonald said.
The big supermarkets in New Zealand all stock King soup mix, which comes in eight varieties, and Countdown has a focus on soup this winter with a price lockdown on a large range of soup products for the season.
Countdown business manager – beverages and cooking, Greta Taylor, said they have been selling King soup mix since it first came on the market 60 years ago and New Zealanders embrace it this time of year.
‘‘It is a New Zealand icon in the soup game. The largest chunk of our sales are between April and September.’’
Hansells Masterton has had to adapt to survive in recent years. Most of the company is locally owned again, with a 25 per cent stake owned by overseas interests. They now manufacture for various brands on contract including the Auckland-based Hansells New Zealand Ltd.
One of the Masterton factory’s strongest lines are ready-to-mix dairy products for the export market- predominantly China.
The Masterton plant now employs 65 people.
Its future prospects remain positive with market advantages such as its central location, stable workforce and ability to accommodate smaller contracts.
Hansells Masterton Ltd King Soup Mix production line.