PROCESS EX­PORTS DRIVE AHEAD

New Zealand’s pro­cessed veg­etable ex­ports are sig­nif­i­cantly larger in vol­ume and value to those of Aus­tralia, while New Zealand also now im­ports con­sid­er­ably less than Aus­tralia does.

NZ Grower - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian McDon­ald & Glenys Chris­tian

In the last three years, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant change in the im­port and ex­ports of pro­cessed prod­uct. New Zealand is now ex­port­ing more and im­port­ing less when com­pared to the same prod­ucts five years ago. Mean­while, Aus­tralia is im­port­ing more and ex­port­ing less.

In 2010, New Zealand im­ported pro­cessed veg­eta­bles far more heav­ily from Aus­tralia than we do now, and Aus­tralia im­ported less. The dif­fer­ence now is a re­sult of many fac­tors; our com­pet­i­tive labour rates and in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised qual­ity have made New Zealand pro­duce highly de­sir­able in the for­eign mar­ket, and the clo­sure of many Aus­tralian veg­etable pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tions to re­lo­cate in New Zealand has made our pro­cessed veg­eta­bles an es­sen­tial ex­port in par­tic­u­lar to Aus­tralia.

While New Zealand im­ports have risen slightly in the last three years, and ex­ports are flat­ten­ing out, tak­ing an in­ter­na­tional ap­proach shows th­ese changes in per­spec­tive. We're do­ing a lot bet­ter than other coun­tries. Aus­tralia's im­ports have sky­rock­eted, and their ex­ports have dropped. New Zealand's pro­cessed veg­etable sales are far more sta­ble, de­spite a back­lash from sev­eral Aus­tralian su­per­mar­kets, who claim they will not stock im­ported goods.

Most of New Zealand veg­etable ex­ports are from the pro­cessed sec­tor. The ‘Prod­uct of New Zealand' la­bel also seems to be a boon to sales, thanks to our out­stand­ing in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity. >

The New Zealand veg­etable pro­cess­ing in­dus­try is now well es­tab­lished in New Zealand and is be­com­ing more com­pet­i­tive than other ex­port­ing na­tions, as well as cur­rently sup­ply­ing most of the Aus­tralasian mar­ket.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics (ABS), Aus­tralia's process veg­etable im­ports rose by 19% to $309 mil­lion in 2013-14, and again by an­other 7% in the 2014-15 sea­son. Aus­tralia re­ceives the ma­jor­ity of their im­ports of pro­cessed veg­etable from Italy and China. Mean­while New Zealand is Aus­tralia's third largest sup­plier at $34 mil­lion, which has in­creased by 6% since 2012-13. Aus­tralia has in­creased its im­ports of pro­cessed veg­etable im­ports year on year from most of its top 15 sup­ply­ing coun­tries.

With an in­crease in pro­duc­tion costs in Aus­tralia, and New Zealand's re­main­ing con­sid­er­ably more sta­ble, Aus­tralian im­ports from New Zealand have in­creased. In the last fi­nan­cial year alone, frozen potato im­ports from New Zealand to Aus­tralia have in­creased by 24,000 tonnes, as well as 1,500 tonnes of whole toma­toes and 780 tonnes of frozen peas, much of which is sourced in New Zealand.

“It's re­ally good”, said David Had­field, chair of Process Veg­eta­bles NZ. “It's just a pity we can't ex­port more. The fac­to­ries are pretty much run­ning at their up­per ca­pac­ity at the mo­ment for cer­tain crops.

“New Zealand pro­duce is in high de­mand right now. A lot of Aus­tralian pro­duce goes straight into their home­brand ranges and, since not ev­ery­one wants home­brand, we find our niche with pre­mium brands.

“The reg­u­la­tory sit­u­a­tion in Aus­tralia hit the pro­cess­ing in­dus­try hard along with vari­able se­cu­rity of ac­cess to ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter, and so most of the pro­duc­tion moved to New Zealand. We're much more user-friendly over here by com­par­i­son, and have a more re­li­able wa­ter sup­ply.”

Aus­tralia is the largest des­ti­na­tion for our pro­cessed veg­eta­bles, fol­lowed by Ja­pan. Mean­while, New Zealand im­ported hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duce from over 100 coun­tries in 2014, with veg­eta­bles worth a to­tal of $196.2 mil­lion. Al­most three quar­ters of those im­ports were in five cat­e­gories, the largest be­ing

New Zealand is Aus­tralia’s third largest sup­plier at $34 mil­lion, which has in­creased by 6% since 2012-13.

$49.1m of frozen veg­eta­bles from 36 coun­tries. Over half of th­ese im­ports were frozen pota­toes, at a value of $27.9m, with Aus­tralian im­ports ac­count­ing for $14.5m.

Added to this were $30.6m worth of veg­etable prepa­ra­tions im­ported from 58 coun­tries. China and Spain each ac­counted for $2.9m, Greece $2.6m, Aus­tralia $2.0m and Peru $1.8m. Dried veg­eta­bles worth $29.2m came from 56 dif­fer­ent coun­tries with the largest cat­e­gory, dried beans, mak­ing up $13.4m. The United States was the big­gest player here, ac­count­ing for just $10m. A to­tal of $26.7m worth of pre­served toma­toes were im­ported from 23 coun­tries, with Italy tak­ing the lead at an im­port value of $12.9m, fol­lowed by the US at $7.2m.

The fifth cat­e­gory was $10.9m worth of melon im­ports from seven dif­fer­ent coun­tries with Aus­tralian im­ports worth $8.4m, fol­lowed by the Philip­pines at $1.9m. Turkey, through its ex­ports of dried fruit, Viet­nam, Fiji, the Nether­lands, In­dia and Bel­gium also send smaller quan­ti­ties of veg­eta­bles to this coun­try.

The ul­ti­mate take­away here is a pos­i­tive one - that ex­ports are up and im­ports are down across New Zealand's pro­cessed veg­etable in­dus­try. Faced with a chang­ing mar­ket and the need to adapt to sur­vive, the New Zealand mar­ket has had a hard graft of it over the past few years. But the ef­fort seems to be fi­nally pay­ing off.

“New Zealand pro­duce is in high de­mand right now. A lot of Aus­tralian pro­duce goes straight into their home­brand ranges and, since not ev­ery­one wants home­brand, we find our niche with pre­mium brands.”

Grow­ers, re­searchers and pro­ces­sors in Hawke's Bay dis­cussing is­sues and po­ten­tial so­lu­tions to in­crease bean yields.

Aus­tralia's ex­ports are steadily de­clin­ing, while New Zealand's re­main rel­a­tively static, and far above the com­pe­ti­tion.

De­spite ris­ing im­ports into New Zealand, the flow is con­sid­er­ably slower than Aus­tralia's.

Process corn be­ing in­spected and graded be­fore can­ning or freez­ing.

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