Packhouse Worker

Kaimahi Whare Putunga

Alternative titles for this job

Packhouse workers grade, pack and store fruit, vegetables and other produce in packhouses.

Pay

Packhouse workers usually earn

$18-$20 per hour

Packhouse workers who supervise others usually earn

$20-$25 per hour

Source: Horticulture NZ and Pick NZ, 2019.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a packhouse worker are good due to a shortage of workers.

Pay

Pay for packhouse workers varies depending on what they do and where they work.

  • New packhouse workers usually start on the minimum wage.
  • Packhouse workers with two to three years' experience usually earn between $18 and $20 an hour.
  • Packhouse workers who supervise others can earn between $20 and $25 an hour.

Sources: Horticulture New Zealand, 2019; and Pick NZ, 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Packhouse workers may do some or all of the following:

  • grade, pack and store produce according to market requirements
  • assemble packaging and crates
  • stack crates using forklifts
  • check the quality of produce
  • follow food, health and safety regulations
  • maintain equipment and machinery.

Skills and knowledge

Packhouse workers need to have knowledge of:

  • grading, packing and storing produce
  • quality standards for produce
  • health, safety, and food laws and processes.

Working conditions

Packhouse workers:

  • work regular business hours in the off-season, but usually do shift work and extra hours during the harvest season
  • work in packhouses and warehouses
  • may have to travel to follow the work as the seasons and harvests change.

What's the job really like?

Packhouse worker video

Cherokee Hancox-Kirikiri talks about being a packhouse worker - 0:37 mins. (Video courtesy of Apples and Pears NZ)

Cherokee: My name is Cherokee Hancox-Kirikiri. I'm 22 and I'm from Hawke's Bay.
I work at the Mr Apple packhouse in Waipawa.
I started working on the packing lines when I was 15 and when they were looking for a packing lane supervisor I put my hand up.
Now I'm completing a horticulture apprenticeship and I'm the youngest packing line supervisor in our company.
Next I want to become a shift manager for Waipawa packhouse.
It's not just a job, it's a career where you can get ahead.

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become a packhouse worker. However, horticultural knowledge or experience is useful.

Some employers support packhouse workers to gain horticulture qualifications on the job.

The Primary ITO offers fruit and vegetable production courses and apprenticeships.

Some employers may require you to have a a heavy truck driving licence, or forklift licence.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a packhouse worker. However, agricultural and horticultural science is useful.

Year 11-12 learners can find out more about the horticulture industry and earn unit standards towards a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture or Horticulture (Level 1 or 2) with the Trades Academy.

Year 12-13 learners can find out more about the horticulture industry and earn NCEA unit standards through the Primary ITO Gateway programme.

Personal requirements

Packhouse workers need to be:

  • efficient and methodical
  • reliable and punctual
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work as part of a team
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work well under pressure.

Useful experience

Useful experience includes:

  • work in orchards or market gardens
  • forklift driving
  • production line work.

Physical requirements

Packhouse workers need to be reasonably fit as they may lift heavy boxes and stand on their feet all day.

Find out more about training

Horticulture New Zealand
(04) 472 3795 - info@hortnz.co.nz - www.hortnz.co.nz
Primary Industry Training Organisation
0800 20 80 20 - info@primaryito.ac.nz - www.primaryito.ac.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Strong demand for packhouse workers 

Demand for packhouse workers is strong and will continue to grow due to:

  • a shortage of workers caused by low unemployment rates
  • an increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables grown
  • the horticulture industry is expected to grow and increase its export revenue to over $5 billion in 2023.

It is predicted that 32,000 horticulture workers will be needed for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but only up to 28,000 workers will be available.  

Job chances for packhouse workers best in summer and autumn

Demand for packhouse workers is higher during the peak growing seasons of summer and autumn. However, packhouse workers are needed all year round.

Your best chance of getting work is to contact employers directly. 

The best regions to find work are Hawke's Bay, Bay of Plenty, Tasman (Nelson and Motueka) and Marlborough (Blenheim).

Types of employers varied

Packhouse workers may work for:

  • orchardists and grape (wine) growers
  • fruit, mushroom, nut and vegetable growers
  • grain farmers
  • flower growers.

Sources

  • Chapman, M, 'Access to Labour Critical to Horticulture's Growth', 16 March 2018, (www.hortnz.co.nz).
  • Horticulture New Zealand, 'Horticulture NZ Annual Report 2019', 2019, (www.hortnz.co.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2019 Regional Seasonal Employer Survey', June 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Social Development, 'Seasonal Labour Shortages in Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty declared', 5 April 2019, (www.scoop.co.nz). 
  • New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, 'Horticulture labour supply and demand', June 2019.
  • Tipa, P, 'Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme to be Reviewed', 16 January 2019, (www.ruralnews.co.nz). 
  • Van Beek, J, national seasonal labour, Horticulture New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, September 2019. 
  • Work The Seasons, 'Seasonal Calendar', accessed September 2019, (www.worktheseasons.co.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Packhouse workers may move into forklift operator, shift supervisor or manager roles, or work in logistics (co-ordinating transport of goods).

Packhouse workers may specialise in a number of roles, including:

Grader
Graders sort fruit, vegetables and other produce in order of size, type, colour and quality.
Labeller
Labellers put labels on fruit, vegetables and other produce for export. 
Packer
Packers fill trays and crates and check the quality and presentation of produce.
Post-harvest Quality Controller
Post-harvest quality controllers take samples of produce to check their size, colour and quality.
Stacker
Stackers stack packed boxes of produce in a way that ensures they do not get damaged.
Strapper
Strappers tape and wrap boxes and crates of produce.
Tray Prep
Tray preps assemble packaging, crates and trays ready to be filled with produce.
Robert Humphries discusses the quality of kiwifruit with a colleague

Packhouse workers check fruit and vegetables for quality

Last updated 18 October 2019