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Changes To Apple And Pear Export Regime

The Government has decided in principle to open up export opportunities for pipfruit growers, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The apple and pear export regulations would be revoked from October 1 this year, Mr Sutton said.

This will give growers a choice of exporters who will all compete on an equal footing.

Mr Sutton said it had become increasingly clear that the "halfway house" situation where ENZA had a statutory dominant position and other groups could only export if permitted by an independent committee was clearly not sustainable long-term.

ENZA had initiated two lots of court action against the current export regime already this year, which had the potential to disrupt marketing programmes until the court actions were discontinued.

Two seasons in this system had, however, allowed independent exporters to build experience and customer relationships which should add value to the industry as a whole.

"The Government now trusts the industry will put behind it the political distractions of recent years and to focus on co-operating to decide upon an agreed frameword for competitive marketing," Mr Sutton said.

He said a likely way forward for this to be done would be to form a product group attached to the Horticultural Export Authority, which could help protect the value of "Brand New Zealand" for all exporters. Further consultation would occur before legislation is introduced later this year.

"New Zealand is still probably the best country in the world in which to produce apples. I believe that our growers can bounce back from the last few desperate years and return to prosperity."

Office of Hon Jim Sutton

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