Fruit and vegetable exports star
Horticulture exports are forecast to rise by 13.1 percent in the year ending June 2019 to $6.1 billion, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture (SONZA). Kiwifruit export revenue is forecast to rise 23 percent over this period, driven by a large kiwifruit harvest in March and April this year following a poor harvest in 2017, and rising kiwifruit prices.
All other horticultural products are expected to drive growing export revenue as well with growth of 8.0 percent expected over the next year.
Kiwifruit production for the latest season is estimated to be nearly 25 percent above the lowvolume crop of 2017. New Gold3 plantings are starting to provide higher yields resulting in a 91 percent higher orchardgate return in 2017-18 compared with the rest of green varieties. This is likely to ensure the continued investment in switching from green to gold over the coming years as more Gold3 licences are released.
Kiwifruit exports to China have increased by four times over the past five years with this country buying a higher proportion of gold kiwifruit than other destinations. E-commerce data shows NZ kiwifruit gets better consumer ratings and better retail prices than kiwifruit from other sources, for both green and gold. Gold kiwifruit is the main driver of this growth, with increases in both volume and prices but green varieties are still favoured in some markets and will remain a key part of the kiwifruit production mix.
Apple and pear export volumes for calendar year 2018 are expected to exceed the 20 million carton milestone or 360,000 tonnes, last achieved in 2004, with strong demand from European and Asian markets lifting export prices compared with the previous year. Warm summer temperatures combined with adequate moisture helped lift fruit size but also resulted in some fruit firmnessrelated issues, such as stem splitting and stem punctures, for a few varieties.
The total planted area is forecast to reach 11,000 hectares by 2021.
Avocado export volume for the year ended June 2018 were the lowest since 2013, following a low harvest in 2017. The 2018 crop is expected to be more than 50 percent larger, as expected from their irregular bearing pattern, with export revenue for the year ending June 2019 forecast at $146 million,
up from $98m in 2018.
Avocado export prices respond to the variable crop volumes and in 2018 reached a record average price per tray of $41.50, a 35 percent increase over the price received in the previous year. As production is forecast to return to higher yields a lower price per tray is expected.
Minister, Damien O’Connor, said since June it had revised its export forecast up by $465m with kiwifruit the biggest contributor. The exceptional growth in the kiwifruit sector forecast contrasted strongly with the outlook in 2014, when the industry was battling the effects of the Psa disease outbreak, he said. Since that time kiwifruit exports have doubled to $1.9 billion, supported by the high-value Gold3 variety.
Looking out to 2020 and beyond, the trajectory of primary sector production and exports will depend on industry’s response to an evolving operating environment, the report said. Issues will include trade disruption, shifting consumer preferences, increasing risk of pest incursion and an emphasis on sustainability – including measures to minimise New Zealand’s contribution to climate change and improve local environmental outcomes. Growth will increasingly come from getting more value from existing assets and the development of new higher value products, such as Gold3 kiwifruit. These changes will increase the focus toward redefining how the primary industries contribute to the NZ economy by increasing productivity through innovation, and by adding more value by deepening links to customers and seeking new markets.
“To make this transition towards sustainability, it is imperative to learn how leading farmers are performing and extending those lessons to others, lifting the level of the industry as a whole. This will require a culture of trust, experimentation, and sharing so that new innovations can be adopted rapidly across sectors.”