Tuesday 8th May 2012, 02:49 Central Time
NZ fresh produce exports growing
Shifting its focus to Australia and Asia has helped New Zealand grow its fresh produce exports in 2011
New Zealand has seen horticultural exports increase by 3.1 per cent in 2011, despite a 6.5 per cent rise in the value of the New Zealand dollar.
Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ), which released the information in the Fresh Facts handbook it produces annually in concert with Plant & Food Research, said the increase in exports was worth NZ$100m (US$80m) to the local economy.
HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock said a shift in focus to Australia and Asia contributed to the growth in exports.
"We have seen a five-fold increase in fruit and vegetable exports to Australia in 10 years which shows just how reliant that market has become on high quality New Zealand produce,” he said.
Exports to Asia during this period have doubled, benefitting from a number of Free Trade Agreements with countries in the region.
In the last 10 years exports to Australia have grown from NZ$159m in 2000 to NZ$756m in 2011 despite market access issues for products like apples, potatoes and kumara.
The Australian market is expected to continue to increase in its importance to New Zealand producers.
"It is a very tough market out there right now for exporters and while Europe and the US are still important markets the strongest growth is coming from markets closer to home which is positive,” said Silcock.
"Exporters are realigning to growth markets which are closer to us and Australian consumers have obviously come not just to trust, but to rely on high quality New Zealand product.
"We have a vision to increase the value of the New Zealand horticulture industry to NZ$10bn by 2020, and we are half way there.
"Australia is one of the key markets that will help us get to that goal," Silcock said.