New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has forecast horticultural export revenues during the year ending June 2016 to rise 16% to NZ$4.8 billion.
The expected NZ$668 million boost is led by the recovery of the kiwifruit industry, significant increases in apple exports, continued growth from the wine industry, and assisted by likely favourable exchange rates.
Revenues are forecast to reach almost NZ$5.2 billion in 2016-17.
In a December update for MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries 2015 report, the organization said green kiwifruit yields reached record levels during this year’s harvest at 11,000 trays per hectare due to favourable climatic conditions.
It added gold kiwifruit volumes had recovered to exceed pre-Psa levels and are forecast to reach 50 million trays in the year ending June 2017. Future production increases are also expected to be driven by gold kiwifruit.
More than 4,000 hectares of the Gold3 kiwifruit cultivar are said to be maturing, with large production increases expected in the year ending March 2018 to around a 50 million tray harvest, compared with 12 million trays in 2014.
Apple and pear export volumes and values are expected to increase steadily, with volumes reaching a milestone of 360,000 metric tons (MT) in 2017 as recent plantings come into production. This level of volumes was last achieved in 2004.
Export production is expected to continue increasing year-on-year as changes in the variety mix and new orchards diminish the influence of the biennial bearing pattern of specific varieties on total export production.
Vegetable export volumes are expected to grow slightly in the short to medium-term based on current market access and competitiveness expectations for fresh vegetable exports.
Avocado export volumes are forecast to be 35% lower in 2015-16 due to an off-year in the biennial bearing pattern of avocado orchards.
The influence of this pattern on total avocado export volumes is expected to diminish, diluted by further implementation of mitigating orchard practices and new plantings coming into production.
Meanwhile, cherry plantings are increasing, which is expected to lift exports. The planted area in cherries in the main growing region of Otago recorded a 10% increase between 2012 and 2014.
Consumer demand for kiwifruit is expected to grow as it is successfully marketed to health-conscious consumers in high-value markets, according to MPI.
Prices in 2016, however, will be tempered by demand being rapidly met by increasing gold kiwifruit volumes from New Zealand, while Chile’s green kiwifruit export volumes are expected to return to normal levels following severe frosts in 2013.
Reduced apple production in the U.S. and some European countries in 2015 should mean a less competitive market for Southern Hemisphere fruit in 2016, while export prices for apples and pears are forecast to increase steadily.
This is supported by ongoing changes in the variety mix, further expansion into higher-paying markets (particularly Asia), and favourable exchange rates.
Onion crops in Continental Europe for the 2015 harvest are reported to be down on last year, offering Southern Hemisphere exporters better prospects for 2016.
This, combined with the weakening of the New Zealand dollar against the euro, should lift export returns from these markets in 2016.
Medium-term, growth in onion exports is reliant on improved access to growing markets in Asia, as improved storage systems are reducing the sales window into Europe.
Squash exports, traditionally reliant on Japan, should start to benefit from recent trade agreements with China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Cherry exports will also benefit from these recent agreements, especially with Taiwan, New Zealand’s largest cherry export market.