New Zealand’s pipfruit industry is forecasting its strongest season in five years with growers set to enjoy healthy profits, according to a report by NZ Farmer.
Steady growth in Asian markets and record prices for many varieties in Europe, particularly Great Britain, are credited with the upturn. Fruit shortages in other markets, particularly the drastically reduced kiwifruit crop, have also been a contributing factor.
The news is likely to be very well received by the ailing industry, whose growers have reportedly lost money in three of the four previous seasons.
These financial woes were a result of heavy spending on replanting new varieties in growing orchards, according to Pipfruit New Zealand chairwoman Nadene Tunley. She emphasised that although they had incurred debt, they were now better placed to grow than Hawke's Bay which had more blocks of older trees.
As well as helping growers reduce their high debt levels, industry representatives have said the positive forecast will give growers the confidence to resume replanting, with nurseries already reporting increased orders. Tunley emphasised reinvestment was critical if the industry was to reach the government target of doubling pipfruit exports by 2020-25.
Chief executive officer of Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency chief, Bill Findlater, told NZ Farmer he believed growers were regaining confidence again.
"They will want to wait until the final returns are in but there are a few more smiles around,” he said. "The growers deserve it because they have worked really hard over the last few years just to keep going. Even when things were tight nobody was pulling the blanket up over their head."