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Hon. Jim Sutton - Speech to Fruitgrowers' Fed.

Hon. Jim Sutton

Speech to Fruitgrowers' Federation

7pm, March 21

embargoed till delivery

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here to celebrate the launch of two publications on the fruit Industry HortResearch's statistics guide to horticultural exports and the federation's publication "New Zealand Fruit - flourishing, fashionable, and fresh".

Horticultural exports have steadily increased in value during the past two decades, contributing strongly to export earnings, to employment, and to the well-being of rural communities.

These days, it is very fashionable to talk about a "knowledge-based economy".

Well, the horticulture industry doesn't just talk about, it does it and it leads the way in using technology to bring about developments. Those range from producing a gold kiwifruit to advances in DNA testing of varieties.

New varieties of pipfruit, kiwifruit, berryfruit, and summerfruit continue to be developed. The commercialisation of these and other varieties will ensure New Zealand remains at the leading edge of the world fruit market.

Even the older types of fruit are undergoing new image changes.

Avocados are becoming increasingly popular overseas - even being likened to truffles! Exports increased almost 50 per cent last year and increases between 20 per cent and 40 per cent are expected for the next five years.

Tamarillo production is expected to double by 2010, and there are increased plantings of feijoas, passionfruit, nashi, hops, and chestnuts.

The industry is currently undergoing massive expansion with growth anticipated across all sectors.

Total revenue from the fruit industry in this country has doubled in the past 10 years, and is expected to more than double again, to reach $3.8 billion by 2010. That's $2.2 billion from exports, $0.6 billion from domestic sales, and $1 billion from things such as the sale and lease of plant variety patents.

It's an industry driven by exports, not domestic sales - though those are useful.

Fruit, vegetables, and flowers comprise 13.6 per cent of all agricultural exports. They go to 110 different countries. It earned more than $1.75 billion last year. That's seven per cent of all exports. All of them, not just the agricultural ones.

Of those, 41 countries spent more than $1 million buying our products, and 15 of those spent more than $10 million.

Japan, the European Union, Britain, the United States, and Australia are our biggest markets for primary produce and all grew within the past 10 years.

But growers aren't just concentrating on the big, traditional markets. Taiwan, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Spain, and Italy are all growing markets too.

Asian nations - largely untapped markets for fruit - are increasingly adopting Western eating habits, with opportunities for the New Zealand industry. Sales of New Zealand kiwifruit to China - their land of origin - have increased 60 times since 1993.

As well as generating $1.7 billion in revenue each year, the fruit industry also supports a further $3 billion in related economic activity.

It employs 25,000 people each year. In the main fruitgrowing areas of Hawke's Bay, the Bay of Plenty, Nelson, and Marlborough, it employs between 33 per cent and 54 per cent of the workforce.

Our fruit industry has an internationally renowned research and develoment capability. It generates a "clean, green" image for New Zealand in overseas markets, providing an opportunity for brand leverage for other products - including tourism.

I wish the industry well for what seems to be a bright future.

Thank you.

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