About us

Our History

Southern Paprika logo

While the original growing operation ca be traced back to a small business that began in a field in Matakana, the Southern Paprika Limited (SPL) business started as a joint-venture which was formed in 1998 by Alexander Cropping Limited (owned by Hamish and Robyn Alexander) and the Levarht Family of Holland. SPL was purchased by New Zealand grower-owned co-operative, Market Gardeners Limited (MG), in March 2023.

Today, the 86ha SPL site is located in Warkworth, 60 minutes North of Auckland, houses one million plants at any one time, producing seven million kilos of capsicums a year. The property consists of five glasshouse complexes totalling 27ha, including 26ha at the Warkworth site and the original 1ha structure which is located at Point Wells.

SPL has developed state of the art glasshouses which utilise the latest innovations. The business, which employs 170 staff, has also invested significantly in automation, systems and packhouses, leading to SPL being one of the most efficient producers of premium capsicums in New Zealand.

The company name, Southern Paprika, was created because the operation is in the Southern hemisphere, and in the northern hemisphere capsicums are known as Paprika (we don’t make the red spice of the same name).


Market Gardeners Limited (MG)

Established in 1923, Market Gardeners Limited, trading as MG, is a grower co-operative and leading fresh produce business, servicing the entire market with a full range of fruit and vegetables through a network of nine large temperature-controlled branches, along with two MG Direct branches. MG partners with hundreds of growers (many of which are shareholders), along with retail and food service customers. MG is also involved in a number of complementary businesses including IP, exporting, along with holding the major shareholding in Australian business, Premier Fresh Australia and is the New Zealand partner for large international brands, including Dole and Sunkist. In addition to owning SPL, MG own 100% of large Nelson hothouse and outdoor growing operation, JS Ewers, and it has a 50% stake (owning 100% of the property/assets) in undercover berry fruit business, Kaipaki Berryfruits.


Sweet Bell Peppers

Our reason for being

Capsicums have health benefitsSouthern Paprika is focused on production with the aim of being the most reliable supplier of what we produce. We have specialised in Capsicums and continue to see this as our core crop as we are now one of New Zealand’s largest capsicum growers. To continue being a market leader we are continually challenging ourselves to consistently provide the best quality fruit for our domestic and export customers. Although our philosophy is to keep it simple we have implemented the best available techniques and systems and we are always looking to integrate new technology and innovation in to our entire growing, picking, packing and supply chain management process.

Our goals are to:

  • Produce everything in a long term financially efficient and sustainable way. This includes energy, biological production, waste, transport and health.
  • Increase consumption of the products we produce, and in doing so make our products the consumers preferred choice.
  • Continued prudent innovative and resourceful investment in capital, and research to keep us at the forefront of the capsicum industry, in whatever market we are in.
  • Make SPL a career choice and a rewarding environment for those who will grow the company into the future.

Our customers

SPL is a proactive, production based company. We are driven by our commitment to serve the specific needs of our customers, and we believe a key step in that process is to build and nurture these long-term relationships. We do this by personalising and catering to individual pack orders and consistently endeavoring to supply high quality produce.

Our customers are currently based in Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and each customer has their own specific market requirements.

We are the only major glasshouse operation in New Zealand that specialises in capsicum alone. This ensures our highest priority is producing a truly premium capsicums year around.

In addition to only one product being grown we are sited at one geographic point which offers ongoing economic benefit to our customers in efficient logistical output and delivery.

For all sales enquiries please email sales@spl.nz

In our community

  • Rodney’s location to the airport and impending northern motorway upgrade has given us the confidence to invest around $50 million in capital expenditure for our 26ha of glasshouse
  • We are one of Rodney’s largest employers with well over 100 full-time staff.
  • The direct and indirect annual benefits to the Rodney and Auckland areas is in the Millions annually - our annual wage bill alone is greater than $6 million dollars
  • We have training programs within our industry to allow us to offer apprenticeships to those wanting to start a career in horticulture.

Health & Safety

We pride ourselves on the successful management of Health and Safety and are committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all staff & visitors, and to providing the information, training and supervision needed to achieve this. At SPL we have long recognised the importance and value of consulting and communicating with employees to keep everyone safe & healthy. It is enshrined in our policies and in the guiding principle for how we run our business. As a demonstration of our commitment, we participated in Workplace Safety Management Practices and maintained a tertiary level audit standard. We are also accredited with Global GAP and HACCP food safety program.

Zero Waste / Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

Today’s glasshouses are the result of centuries of research, dating back to the first century when cucumbers were grown year-round for Roman emperors. Glasshouses have evolved significantly and now allow us control over temperature, humidity, and growing medium, resulting in higher yields using approximately 5% of the water that would be required to grow the same amount of product on a traditional outdoor environment.

We believe glasshouses to be the most sustainable and reliable year round form of production for capsicums, and although we use Natural Gas a heat source, we continue to explore alternative energy sources such as Bio Fuel and Ground Heat.


Sustainability of production in a resource restricted world is an important consideration in what we do at SPL and we continue to work towards being a zero waste company.

  • The installation of energy screens has reduced our heat requirements on cold nights by some 40%.
  • We use the CO2 we generate to increase our crops yield by up to 15%
  • The coco peat we use as growing media is all reused (after the plants are taken out at the end of a season) in the NZ landscape industry.
  • Our packaging is made from recycled food grade card board.
  • The closed nutrient loop we have with our irrigation allows all our irrigation water to be treated and reused reducing the quantity left during to be applied to local farmland.

Our environmental policy

We continue to operate at the highest environmentally friendly levels in the production of our capsicum, disposal and recyclability of waste and prevention of pollution.

Our capsicums are grown using non-genetically modified seed, and are cultivated using biological controls and environmentally aware methods wherever possible, giving our customers the best fruit available.

Growing & supplying quality New Zealand capsicums since 1988

Our Capsicums


Quality is important to SPL and we are committed to producing a quality product. Ongoing staff training helps ensure effective management of quality control procedures.

We have implemented and maintain a Quality & Food Safety Program that meets the requirements of HACCP (Hazard & Critical Control Points), Global GAP & NZ GAP.

SPL is audited for each program on an annual basis to ensure we are up to date with current Quality & Food Safety Standards

Our Glass Houses

We have invested around $50million in our state of art glasshouses which utilise the latest innovation from the world leaders in glasshouse production – Holland. In these houses our skilled growers monitor the capsicums throughout the day. We also have a computer that constantly adjusts angles of vents which have been carefully engineered to maximise the amount of light and airflow. We also monitor everything from the amount of fruit being picked to light levels in the greenhouses.

As a result of this technology, the cultivar variety and our grower’s expertise, our capsicums yield around 30kg of capsicums per square metre from plants that grow up to 4 metres in height.

We believe that the Greenhouses of the future will be energy neutral and with their ability to produce 20 to 30 times per metre more than the production of field crops, their future is assured.

Growing & Harvesting

As a result of our advanced glass house technology, our glass house grown capsicum are a different product than that grown in the field. This gives us and our customers (and consumers) distinct benefits over field grown capsicums:

  • Superior appearance and shelf stability
  • Biological production methods
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Food safety with traceability

As the market is becoming more demanding on quality, consistency and food safety we continue to see consumer preference shift from field grown product to Glass house grown product. Capsicums worldwide are now a mainstream product and Holland has over 1000 ha cultivated under glass and Spain over 10,000 ha cultivated under plastic.

Production. Our colour ratio is around 55% Red, 35% Yellow, and 10% Orange. Green production is usually from coloured varieties harvested before colour change occurs. With all this in mind we choose specific varieties to produce different fruit colours and sizes to suit our various domestic and export market requirements.

Capsicum seedlings are planted from May and the plants start bearing fruit from July. (As we have 3 large Glass House complex’s we stagger the planting so we can supply capsicums year round). The plants are hydroponically grown being fed a mixture of water and nutrients through a small feeder tube placed next to the base of the plant. CO² is also fed to the plants from a plastic hose and this helps the plants to grow.

The houses are heated with natural gas. Gas heats water which runs through pipes in and around the glasshouse. This controls humidity (Relative Humidity is around 85%-90%) and the daytime temperature inside the glasshouse ranges between 21-28 degrees Celsius.

A well as our growers, we have many specialised people who work in the glasshouse. The Glasshouse staff loosely fall into crop maintenance and production (harvesting). The crop maintenance involves pruning and twisting the plants to help maintain general health and fruit set for production. As it can take six to twelve months to get the desired quality and speed to become productive in both picking, twisting and pruning, this work is critical to the success of the operation as incorrectly pruned and twisted plants result in poor performance and a reduction in yield

Packing & Distribution

The fruit is taken into the pack house where it is graded (by colour), by quality and then size. We are able to harvest, grade and pack up to 60 tonnes of capsicums per day during the peak season.

Our packaging systems are used to cater to our customers’ specific requirements and our large Pack House with both computerised and manual grading can loose pack to weight, (or fruit count) and for convenience, pack into ‘flow packs’ with a bar coded sticker. These can be single colour packs or multicolour packs (red, yellow and green).

Once the grading and packaging is completed it is transported to Auckland where it is delivered to a retailer or the Airport. It usually takes 1 day from the time the fruit is picked until it is on a supermarket shelf. If the produce is going overseas it takes approximately 2-3 days before appearing on a retailer’s shelf to sell in Japan or Australia.



About Capsicums

Capsicum History

Capsicums, related to the chili peppers, have been in existence for at least 9000 years and according to many historians, they have been cultivated since 5,000 B.C.

Capsicums are members of the Nightshade family of vegetables (as are potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants) and are believed to have originated in regions of South and Central America. Christopher Columbus collected capsicums from the West Indian regions in the 1492 and took them to Spain. It was from there that capsicums spread through the regions of Africa, Asia and Australia. They have only been available in New Zealand for the past 30-40 years

Owing to the adaptable nature of these ‘bell’ peppers, they grew well in tropical and temperate climates. Today, China, Turkey, Italy, Spain, India, Romania and Mexico are among the leading producers of capsicum with almost 20-27 species grown across the world.

Total Capsicum Production in New Zealand

Source: Fresh Facts, published by The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd for the year ending 30 June 2013

Planted Area (ha) 1ha = 10,000m3 Crop volume (tonnes)
38 Growers incl. SPL 65ha (58.5ha in Glasshouses) 15,000

To put NZ’s crop volume in perspective, globally, there are around 3.2 million tonnes of capsicums produced annually. 1.3 million tonnes is harvested in annually just in Europe. China is the world's largest capsicum producer, followed by Mexico and Indonesia

Red, yellow, green - what's the difference?

Capsicums are essentially seed pods. The various coloured capsicums all come from different varieties and can ripen to many colors; ivory, pink, purple, red, yellow, orange and chocolate. Capsicums come in many shapes as well and ours are the ‘the blocky bell’ type (we also grow the elongated ‘sweet point’).

  • Green capsicum

    GREEN CAPSICUMS are harvested before they are fully ripe. Green capsicums will continue to first turn yellow or red if they are left on the plant to mature. They have a slightly bitter flavor and will never have the sweet taste of their red, yellow and orange counterparts and even though they are immature, green capsicums still contain a number of vital nutrients such as potassium (important for regulating blood pressure, promoting muscle contraction and regular heartbeats), vitamin C (helps assist in tissue growth and repair, aids in the prevention of cancer, guards against infection and strengthens immunity) and vitamin A (supports the immune system, enhances lung function and can improve eyesight).

  • Yellow capsicum

    ORANGE AND YELLOW CAPSICUMS. These bright capsicums are sweeter simply because they are ripe, whereas the bitter green pepper is unripe. They have a fruity taste and are loaded with Vitamin A and C (while Greens have none or very little). They roast up superbly, like red capsicums, and maintain their lovely yellow bright colours whenever cooked but them eating raw is when you can appreciate their natural flavour and crispness.

  • Red capsicumRED CAPSICUMS contain the same nutrients that are found in the other coloured capsicums and additionally they contain lycopene, an antioxidant pigment that can help prevent certain types of cancer such as prostate and breast cancer. They are rich in carotenoid phytonutrients and contain almost eleven times more beta-carotene than green capsicums as well as one and a half times more vitamin C. Red capsicums have a sweet, almost fruity taste. Pimento and paprika are both prepared from red capsicums.
  • Sweetpoints

    SWEETPoints - DELICIOUSLY SWEET CAPSICUM are different from a regular capsicum. Obviously they look different as they are not a traditional blocky shape and are pointy with an elongated or curved shape with a softer skin and very few seeds inside. As the name suggests they are a lot sweeter than a normal capsicum (but still with the same nutrients as normal capsicum) and are delicious eaten raw – kids absolutely love them!

  • For SWEETPoints recipes and to learn more about the variety we use, click here: http://sweetpalermo.com/en/home

Is a capsicum a pimiento, a paprika, a bell pepper... or a poivron?

All of the above and more. The actual scientific name is Capsicum annuum L. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand it is known as capsicum regardless of their color.

The misleading name “pepper” was given by Christopher Columbus upon bringing the plant back to Europe. In the United States and Malaysia, they are usually referred to as “bell peppers”. In the Netherlands and some other countries in Europe, the term “paprika” is used, which has its roots from the word ‘pepper’ but the original name for this fruit in Spanish was pimiento.

The bell pepper is called “パプリカ” (papurika) in Japan and in Switzerland it is mostly called “peperoni”….which is the Italian name of the fruit. In France, it is called “poivron”, with the same root as “poivre” (meaning “pepper”), or “piment”. In Korea, the word “피망” (pimang from the Japanese “ピーマン” meaning piiman)

Nutrition & Health Benefits

The vibrant reds, yellows and oranges of our capsicums indicate the high nutrient values and sweet, ripe flavors within and they are very high in vitamin A and dietary fiber: just one capsicum provides more than 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin C - that’s 250% more Vitamin C than citrus fruits by weight!

This vitamin is especially concentrated in red peppers at the highest levels. 100 g red pepper provides about 127.7 µg or about 213% of RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin-C is a potent water soluble antioxidant. Inside the human body, it is required for the collagen synthesis. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Regular consumption of foods rich in this vitamin helps the human body protect from scurvy; develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body. Vitamin C also indirectly benefits your blood circulation – it helps you absorb iron, a mineral your body needs to make healthy red blood cells.

In addition to Vitamin C, capsicums are a good source of Vitamin A, and the B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. B-complex vitamins facilitate cellular metabolism through various enzymatic functions.

There is also dietary fibre, folate, magnesium and potassium, iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Selenium is an anti-oxidant micro-mineral that acts as a co-factor for enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

Red Capsicum (raw). Nutrition value per 100 grams

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

1 capsicum approximately 90mm high = 1 cup of chopped capsicum = approximately 150grams

Percent Daily Intake values are based on an average adults Recommended Dietary Intake of 8700 kJ (2,000 calorie diet). Your daily intakes may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs

PRINCIPLE Nutrient Value % of Daily Intake
Energy 31 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 6.03 g 4%
Protein 0.99 g 2%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fibre 2.1 g 5.5%
Folates 46 µg 12%
Niacin 0.979 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.291 mg 22%
Riboflavin 0.085 mg 6.5%
Thiamin 0.054 mg 4.5%
Vitamin A 3131 IU 101%
Vitamin C 127.7 mg 213%
Vitamin E 1.58 mg 11%
Vitamin K 4.9 µg 4%
Sodium 4 mg <1%
Potassium 211 mg 4.5%
Calcium 7 mg 1%
Copper 0.017 mg 2%
Iron 0.43 mg 5%
Magnesium 12 mg 3%
Manganese 0.112 mg 5%
Phosphorus 26 mg 4%
Selenium 0.1 µg <1%
Zinc 0.25 mg 2%
Carotene-β 1624 µg --
Carotene-α 20 µg --
Cryptoxanthin-β 490 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 51 µg --

Consumer Tips


Our handpicked capsicums will best maintain their crisp, crunchy texture if stored in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator. Wash produce right before eating.


Look for capsicums that are vibrant in colour. The skins should be firm and unblemished. The capsicums you choose should also have a nice, weighty feel for their size (reflecting their thick, well-formed and well-hydrated walls) and firm enough so that they will only yield slightly to a small amount of pressure. Avoid those that have signs of decay including injuries to the skin or water-soaked areas or any dark spots. The shape of the pepper does not generally affect the quality


Capsicums can be baked, grilled, roasted, stir fried, stuffed or just eaten raw by themselves or in salads: cut into strips and eat with dips, or use as an edible garnish. Dice capsicums for use on pizzas; cut into chunks for kebabs; use in pasta sauces; or add to stir fries. Stuff with rice or a bread crumb mixture and bake. Add roasted capsicums, either hot or cold, to salads and sandwiches.

To prepare: Make sure not to cut the pepper in half—just slice through one side. Turn the pepper on its side and cut along the inside, removing the seeds and thin whitish ribs (also called 'membranes'). If the ribs do not come out easily, use a paring knife to remove them.

To stuff a capsicum, cut the stem off and remove the seeds from the top, otherwise it’s easier to cut the capsicum in half first.

To remove capsicum skins, roast, grill or barbecue until the skin blisters and blackens. Slip the burnt skins off. To make this easier place capsicums in a plastic bag or covered dish for a few minutes and then peel skin off.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Add finely chopped capsicums to tuna or chicken salad.
  • Sautée chopped capsicums, celery and onions, combine with tofu, chicken or seafood to make a simple Creole dish.
  • Purée roasted and peeled capsicums with Healthy Sautéed onions and zucchini to make a deliciously refreshing soup that can be served hot or cold.
  • Capsicums are one of the best vegetables to serve on an appetiser platter since not only do they add a brilliant splash of color, but their texture is also the perfect crunchy complement for dips.

Working at SPL

Our People

During the peak production season (around 9 months of the year) SPL has up to 200 staff who work in the Glasshouse to carry out harvesting and crop maintenance duties along with a dedicated Packhouse team.

We find it difficult to get workers who can cope with the hot and humid Glasshouse conditions and as a result, we have recruited some staff from the Tuvalu and Kiribati Island groups (formerly the Gilbert and Ellis Islands). These islands are on and close to the equator. Our Pacific Island staff come to NZ under a migrant scheme to provide a future for them and their families. With unemployment over 80% on the Islands, employment in NZ is a great opportunity. Each season we recruit around 68 seasonal staff most of which come to us on work visas via the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

Related links:

Over the years we have been able to give permanent job offers to some of those that have been selected in the Pacific Access Category (PAC) ballot. We now have an established work force from the Tuvalu and Kiribati Island groups and some of these staff have been at SPL for many years with some now owning their own homes in the Rodney region.

Although we now have an established work force from the Tuvalu and Kiribati Island groups we are firstly looking to give suitable New Zealander’s an opportunity for work and a career in our industry. We work closely with Work and Income, hire via staff referrals and word of mouth and often advertise vacancies on Trade Me Jobs or Seek. Any current vacancies are listed below.

Our Benefits

We are proud of the employment culture at SPL and believe this is a strength which aids company stability and growth - assuring our staff of job security.

In addition to the pay rates and bonus schemes offered, our pastoral care has encompassed events to assist with literacy, budgeting advice, nutrition and health clinics, encouraging carpooling with co-workers to save fuel, facilitating shipping containers sent with personal effects to families in the islands, staff savings through our relationship with ANZ, training opportunities and much more."

We offer life cover for permanent staff of $50k should the worst happen while under employment with us. We also provide free counselling through our employee assistance programme with Vitae.

We believe we are a fair and equitable employer with an empathy towards our staff. Many of our valued employees have been with us since the company’s inception in 1998 and believe this is a testament to our cultivation of fair employment policies.

Current Vacancies:

If you are interested in any of the following roles apply via our following Seek Adverts, or alternatively email recruit@spl.nz for more information.


You can view any of our current vacancies on Seek:

SPL Jobs in New Zealand, Job Vacancies | SEEK

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    Physical address: 504 Woodcocks Road, Warkworth 0981, NEW ZEALAND

    Postal address: P O Box 614, Warkworth 0941, NEW ZEALAND

    Tel: (+64) 9 425 9496
    Fax: (+64) 9 425 9493