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Horticultural exports up another $216 million

Horticulture exports have done it again. They added $216 million to export earnings for the 1997/1998 year and they have added yet another $216 million to export earning for the past financial year to reach a total of $1.74 billion.

HortResearch's CEO, Ian Warrington said that the increase was especially credible given the difficult international trading conditions for most horticultural crops, the static export volumes over the period for some major sectors such as kiwifruit, and the slow recovery of markets in Asia.

"An exciting aspect of horticulture is its diversity," Dr Warrington said, "with around 120 different categories of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable crops and cut flowers being exported to over 110 different overseas countries."

Horticulture provides a major source of employment in regional areas in New Zealand and generates a wide range of secondary industries associated with the packaging, storage, transport, finance and insurance sectors. Continued growth in export receipts will provide much needed confidence in areas such as the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Hawke's Bay, Nelson and Central Otago.

Apples with export sales of $488.2 million, up 28 percent on the previous year, and kiwifruit with $473.7 million, up ten percent, continue to be the main fruit exports. But it is some of the less well-known crops that recorded major increases. Avocado exports increased by 43 percent to $19.3 million, pears increased by 19 percent to $12.6 million, mandarins went up a huge 142 percent to $7.3 million, persimmons went up 55 percent to $9.7 million.

Wine continued its dramatic climb in exports and, with sparkling wine included, 1998/1999 sales were worth over $125.4 million. For the 1997/1998 year wines exports earned in excess of $103 million.

Berryfruits are coming to the fore as the big export growth area in horticulture. Statistics New Zealand official figures show that frozen blackcurrants climbed a massive 225 percent and fresh blackberries climbed a whopping 299 percent. True, they still have some way to go in dollar terms to catch up to strawberries with $11.5 million in exports, a three percent rise on the previous year.

Blueberries have also continued an upward trend with 55 percent more overseas sales bringing their fresh fruit earnings to $4.3 million and frozen blueberries earned more than $1 million.

In the dried and processed fruit exports boysenberry have increased 67 percent but only earned a modest $628,000. Jam on the other hand increased by 12 percent to earn very nearly $16.2 million.

With summerfruit it was only apricots and plums that continued to grow exports while there was a downward trend for cherries, nectarines and peaches and bringing summerfruit earnings down 16 percent to $11 million.

Apple juice exports brought in $36.3 million in the 1996/1997 year, but slipped to $17.8 for 1998/1999. And while dried apples earned $14.3 million in 1996/1997 they dropped by almost 50 percent to only $7.2 million.

Vegetables, fresh, chilled, frozen and processed totalled over $402.6 million, with onions the big earner at $101 million followed by squash ($60 million). Very strong export growth continues with potatoes ($19 million), carrots ($15.6 million) and mushrooms ($2.4 million). Cut flowers continued a steady rise with orchids top of the list at $20 million followed by Zantedeschia (Calla lily) at $9.1 million.

Other areas to watch in the export stakes are flower seeds which rose 88 percent to earn $1.8 million, vegetable seeds up to $15.2 million and sphagnum moss still a steady earner at $13.3 million.

"The future of horticultural exports is very positive," Dr Warrington said. "New cultivars (such as ZESPRI™GOLD), strong brands, good growth in volumes available for export, a credible reputation for providing safe food products, and the capability to deliver produce to high quality standards all contributed to a positive outlook for the future."

"Total export receipts were only $1.02 billion in 1989/1990 and are well on track to exceed $2 billion in 1999/2000," he said.

ends

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