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New Zealand’s horticulture industry set to grow

New Zealand’s horticulture industry set to grow

One of New Zealand’s horticultural heavyweights has set its long-term sights on growing the industry into a multibillion-dollar business.

United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated is celebrating 22 years in the industry. It is now the country’s only pan-produce organisation – with 84 members from across the fresh produce value chain.

United Fresh president, David Smith, says horticulture, which is currently a $3.5 billion industry, is an important export earner for the country. And turning it into a $10 billion industry by 2020 needs vision, co-operation and collaboration.”

“Outside of United Fresh we are all competitors in the marketplace but within United Fresh it’s an open forum, where we all pull together and communicate about industry ‘good’ issues,” says David. “This creates an umbrella across our industry for external communication with the government, the public, media or international organisations.”

The primary objective of United Fresh is to promote the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables to New Zealanders, through the 5+ A Day and Fruit In Schools programmes.

“The formation of the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust, with the children of New Zealand as the beneficiaries, was a strategic move by United Fresh to separate the organisation’s administrative role from the promotional role of 5+ A Day,” he says. “And it has been a huge success.”

The 5+ A Day message is now taught to more than 500,000 primary and intermediate school students. United Fresh members can also use the 5+ A Day logo on packaging and promotional material.

While other countries have similar 5+ A Day programmes, New Zealand is one of the few to be entirely driven by the produce industry and it is highly respected internationally, says David.

United Fresh also supplies 100,000 pieces of fruit and vegetables to low-decile schools each school day, as part of the Government funded Fruit in Schools programme. That adds up to 20 million pieces of produce each year.

“Research has shown children are benefiting from the Fruit In Schools programme, with better concentration in class and fewer health issues,” he says. “The secondary purchasing of fresh produce by families has also increased. It is a wonderful initiative and I don’t claim too much of the credit for that – it has been a big industry push.”

David’s main goal as United Fresh president is to continue fostering collaboration within the industry.

“In the future there will be an increased need for more interaction between government and industry organisations. My role is to make sure we bring all the parties together to promote the industry in a positive way.”

“United Fresh endorses and promotes success both internationally and domestically. Its overall objective is to grow the industry, and to make this happen we must make sure all parties are working together.”

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