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Liam O’Callaghan


Fruit drives rising value of NZ horticulture

Kiwifruit and apples lead the way as the value of New Zealand horticulture rose to a record total

Fruit drives rising value of NZ horticulture

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The value of the New Zealand horticulture sector exceeded NZ$9.2bn (US$6bn) in the past year, putting the industry on track to meet its 2020 goal of NZ$10bn (US$6.5bn), according to figures released in Fresh Facts, a handbook produced by Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) and Plant & Food Research.

The value is up NZ$400m (US$262m) from the previous year, driven a 7 per cent growth in exports. Horticulture exports have increased every year for the past five years and tripled from NZ$1.7bn (US$1.1bn) in 1999 to NZ$5.5bn (US$3.6bn) this year. They now account for almost 10 per cent of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports. 

Two of the three largest contributors to the total were kiwifruit and apples. Kiwifruit accounted for the highest percentage of export revenue (34 per cent) with a value of NZ$1.8bn (US$1.1bn) while apple exports rose to NZ$732.9m (US$479m) in 2018.

The other significant contributor to the sector was wine, which made up 31 per cent of total horticulture exports. Potatoes contributed the most value out of vegetables. The product’s export value reached NZ$115m (US$75m) as exports shifted from fresh potatoes to processed potato products.

Mike Chapman, chief executive of HortNZ, said the sector was thrilled with the results and wanted to continue its push towards its 2020 goal.

“We are delighted to witness the extraordinary growth of our industry over the last 20 years,” Chapman said. “We’re committed to creating an enduring environment where the industry can continue to prosper and achieve our common goal.”

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 128 countries in the past year. Continental Europe, Australia, US, China and Japan made up the top five markets.

Asia remained the largest export region, with the value of exports surpassing NZ$2bn (US$1.3bn) and kiwifruit making up NZ$1.1bn (US$720m) of that total.

Dave Hughes, chief executive of Plant & Food Research, said the reputation of New Zealand horticultural produce drove the growth in a wide range of markets.

“Our industry is well diversified, and it continues to adapt to consumer and market needs to ensure New Zealand products remain in demand and sell at a premium overseas,” Hughes said.

“Part of the premium derives from our innovative and sustainable global reputation. We look forward to helping all our sectors realise their potential and deliver a smart green future for New Zealand.”


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