Horticultural production in this country is flourishing with the latest figures showing the sector has topped the $7 billion mark for the first time.
The figures were published in the April edition of Fresh Facts and showed in the year ended June 2014, the sector reached $7.16 billion in production, up from $6.7 billion the year before.
Exports rose by $300 million to $3.9 billion, an increase of nearly 7 per cent on the previous year.
Kiwifruit was the largest fresh fruit export, valued at $930 million, and apple exports exceeded $500 million for the first time, with New Zealand-bred cultivars accounting for more than 20 per cent of exports.
Australia is our top export market, followed by the US, Japan, UK, Europe and China, with Asia as a whole receiving 30 per cent of exports.
The Fresh Facts report also showed horticulture is more productive per hectare than dairy, the country’s largest export income earner. Horticulture exports are valued at $3.9 billion from 123,000 hectares of land, versus dairy exports of $16.9 billion from 1.7 million hectares.
The great news extends beyond the farm gate with record numbers now being trained in horticultural fields. The Primary Industries Training Organisation reported a 58 per cent increase in trainees to 7,449 in 2014, and investment in horticulture is calculated to be in excess of $36.5 billion.
Along with other industry organisations, United Fresh is confident the sector can reach the target $10 billion of production by 2020.
Providing premium products to high-value markets, the use of science and technology and focusing on efficiency, will help pave the way to this target.
As well as utilising technology and expert knowledge, it is vital the industry continues to work collaboratively, share information and stays on top of trends. These are all key factors that will see New Zealand’s horticulture industry continue to bloom well into the future.
For more on United Fresh, visit: www.unitedfresh.co.nz