Exploring Lean deployment in New Zealand apple pack-houses

Hans J.T. Doevendans (School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
Nigel Peter Grigg (School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
Jane Goodyer (School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Publication date: 16 March 2015



This paper aims to present findings from a research project that investigated the suitability of Lean in a seasonal horticultural setting, specifically the New Zealand (NZ) apple and pear (pipfruit) industry. The paper focusses on improvements made while deploying Lean elements in several apple pack-houses.


The literature review discusses how common theoretical Lean themes are not industry or contextually bound and may be transferable to other industries. An industry-wide survey assesses the current state of knowledge and Lean deployment within the industry using a unique “single-question-per-day” approach. Two case studies and one action research study are used to obtain rich data from organisations that have implemented Lean in recent times. Reliability and validity is achieved by selecting representative samples, using a case study protocol, a single researcher for consistency, participant verification, multiple sources of evidence within cases and replication logic.


The industry survey shows a low level of knowledge and applied Lean within the industry. Data demonstrate that significant progress is made, using different implementation approaches that lead to a measurable increase of Lean, supported by some positive financial indicators.

Research limitations/implications

This research is restricted to NZ apple pack-houses, but indicates that Lean can contribute significantly to general horticultural pack house performance.


Literature research shows that little research has been done to study Lean in the horticultural field generally and in the NZ pipfruit industry specifically. This paper contributes to filling that knowledge gap.



Doevendans, H., Grigg, N. and Goodyer, J. (2015), "Exploring Lean deployment in New Zealand apple pack-houses", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 46-60. https://doi.org/10.1108/MBE-11-2014-0042

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