Horticultural production has topped $7 billion for the first time, with good growth in nearly all the main industries, including wine, apples, potatoes, and onions.
The latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts shows in the year to June 30 2014 the horticultural industry was calculated to reach $7.16 billion in production, up from $6.7 billion the year before.
Exports rose by $300 million to $3.9 billion, an increase of nearly 7 percent on the previous year.
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said New Zealand’s horticultural exports equated to more than three times the comparative return achieved by dairy merchandise exports because of the high productivity of horticultural land.
Horticulture exports of $3.9 billion are produced off 1123,000 hectares of land, versus dairy exports of $16.9 billion from 1.7 million hectares.
Silcock is confident the sector will achieve its target of $10 billion of production by 2020.
The top export destination is Australia, which hit $872 million compared to $791 million in 2013, while the US has increased its intake from $415 million in 2013 to $489 million this year. Two of the top 10 export destinations decreased this year, with the Netherlands falling from $141 million in 2013 to $108 million this year and Spain down by $4 million to $70 million.
Wine continues to be the biggest horticultural export at $1.3 billion in 2014 compared to $1.2 billion in 2013. Sauvignon blanc remains the dominant variety produced, at 310,240 tonnes of the 445,000 tonne total. The total wine grape tonnage was up 29 percent on the previous year, partly due to the average yield increasing from 9.8 tonnes per hectare to 12.6 t/ha.
Kiwifruit is the largest fresh fruit export at $930 million, although that is down $65 million on 2010 figures, following the Psa virus crisis. Exports of gold kiwifruit are recovering in the current export season.
Apple exports exceeded $500 million for the first time, with more than 20 percent by weight coming from New Zealand bred cultivars such as Jazz and Envy. Exports of $536 million (free on board) were up $61 million on 2013 to the highest level in the past decade, despite reduced volume because of hail strike, and down 2 per cent on 2013.
Avocados were one of two crops to record significant export increases, up $59.3 million to $93 million in 2014 over the previous year, and compared to just $29 million in 2005. Avocados were identified last year as a potentially high growth segment for New Zealand horticultural exports to Asia in a report for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment by the food consultancy firm, Coriolis.
The other area to see strong growth was natural honey, where exports of $187 million were an increase of 29 percent, or $42 million, on 2013 and nearly three times the figure in 2008.