Kiwifruit vine - SunGold

Kiwifruit continues to be the leading light for New Zealand’s horticulture export sector, which delivered a record performance over the year ending 30 June 2019.

According to latest edition of Fresh Facts,published annually by Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand, the total value of the New Zealand horticulture industry reached NZ$9.5bn over the 12 month period. Exports sales reached a record $6.2bn, an increase of NZ$720m from the previous year.

Kiwifruit continues to be New Zealand’s largest fresh fruit export, valued at NZ$2.3bn in 2019. Over 545,000 tonnes of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit were exported last season, two thirds of this to Asian countries. Apples were the second largest fresh fruit export, generating NZ$829m in sales over the year-long period.

Vegetable exports were spearheaded by onions, which had an export value of NZ$170.3m in 2019, more than half of which was supplied to European markets. Potato exports came in at NZ$129.4m, although most of this was destined for processing for the Australian market.

New Zealand horticultural products were exported to 130 countries in 2019. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Australia, the US, China and Japan. Exports to the combined Asian region accounted for NZ$2.6bn, 42 per cent of the overall total.

“A reputation for high quality fruits and vegetables produced using environmentally sustainable practices, in addition to well established trade routes, are vital for the New Zealand horticulture industry,” said David Hughes, chief executive of Plant & Food Research. “Innovation – in the form of new varieties and constantly improved production systems – will ensure New Zealand’s success into the future.”

Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, was positive about the outlook for the industry.

“The horticulture industry experienced another year of substantial growth in 2019, thanks to the innovation and expertise of our growers and exporters,” Chapman explained. “It is this innovation and expertise that will enable our industry to adapt successfully to the challenges that Covid-19 is bringing. At the same time, Covid-19 will offer our industry opportunities, particularly in terms of likely increased export demand for our fresh, healthy produce.

“With that in mind, I remain positive about the future prosperity of our industry on the basis that container supply, regular shipping and markets remain open to our produce.The re-opening of restaurants in New Zealand and in our overseas markets is needed to ensure that we have all outlets that use our produce open and operating.”