Collapse threatens 220 jobs

Receivers have been appointed to a major mussel processor in Tauranga, putting 20 full-time and 200 seasonal jobs at risk.

The business, North Island Mussel Processors (NIMP), is a joint venture owned by Sanford, Sealord and Greenshell New Zealand.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Sanford said Greenshell NZ had failed to pay $1.2 million of processing fees to the joint venture, forcing the receivership.

Greenshell NZ is owned by interests associated with Peter Vitasovich, chairman of Aquaculture New Zealand.

Vitasovich could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sanford said it and Sealord would work with the receivers to see if mussel processing operations could start once the new Coromandel mussel season began next month, and to protect the jobs of staff employed by the joint venture.

NIMP is a tolling business that charges fees for processing mussels from its owners' farms. Its $23m factory in Tauranga was opened by Prime Minister John Key in June 2010.