New Zealand horticulture exports grew to $6.2 billion last year

New Zealand horticulture exports reached a record $6.2 billion in the year ending June 2019 – an increase of $720 million from the previous year, and more than 10% of New Zealand’s total merchandise export income.

According to latest edition of Fresh Facts, published annually by Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand, the total New Zealand horticulture industry was valued at $9.5 billion in 2019.

A significant $3.4 billion of this was fresh fruit exports, which grew by $54 million from 2018 levels.

Kiwifruit continues to be New Zealand’s largest fresh fruit export, valued at $2.3 billion in 2019. A whopping 545,800 tonnes of kiwifruit exports were sent overseas, two thirds of this to Asian countries.

Apples were the second-largest fresh fruit export, earning $829 million. New Zealand-bred varieties such as Jazz™, Envy™ and Pacific™ brand apples are popular with overseas consumers and made up a quarter of apple exports.

New Zealand wine was supplied to 100 countries during the year and earned more than $1.8 billion. The USA, UK, Australia and Canada account for more than 80% of NZ’s wine exports.

Notable vegetable exports include onions which had a $170.3 million export value during the year, more than half supplied to European markets, and $129.4 million of potatoes were exported, mostly in processed form for the Australian market.

Potatoes are a New Zealand favourite too. Kiwi consumers spent more on them than on any other vegetable.

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 130 countries in 2019. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Australia, the USA, China and Japan.

Exports to Asia were $2.6 billion, 42% of total NZ horticulture exports.

“A reputation for high quality fruits and vegetables produced using environmentally sustainable practices, in addition to well established trade routes, are vital for the New Zealand horticulture industry,” says David Hughes, CEO, Plant & Food Research.

“Innovation – in the form of new varieties and constantly improved production systems – will ensure New Zealand’s success into the future.”

Mike Chapman, Chief Executive of Horticulture New Zealand, said the horticulture industry experienced another year of substantial growth last year thanks to the innovation and expertise of growers and exporters.

“It is this innovation and expertise that will enable our industry to adapt successfully to the challenges that COVID-19 is bringing.  At the same time, COVID-19 will offer our industry opportunities, particularly in terms of likely increased export demand for our fresh, healthy produce,” he says. 

“With that in mind, I remain positive about the future prosperity of our industry on the basis that container supply, regular shipping and markets remain open to our produce.  The re-opening of restaurants in New Zealand and in our overseas markets is needed to ensure that we have all outlets that use our produce open and operating.”

To view the latest issue of Fresh Facts (and all previous issues) visit

Key facts:

  • Produce from the New Zealand horticultural sector were $9.5 billion in the year to 30 June 2019.
  • The total value of horticultural exports was $6.2 billion in 2019, $720 million more than in 2018.
  • The biggest horticultural export was kiwifruit ($2.3 billion). Other key exports were wine ($1.8 billion), apples ($828.8 million), and onions ($170.3 million).
  • Exports to five markets ‒ Continental Europe, Australia, the USA, China and Japan ‒ accounted for almost $4.7 billion and 76% of the total exports.
  • The diversity of horticultural products exported was apparent in the 25 products exported to Asia, each valued between $5 million and over $1.5 billion, and to Australia with 15 categories, each valued between $5 million and over $360 million FOB value.
  • Honey exports went to 59 countries, with a total value of $355 million FOB (Consistent with other entries in Fresh Facts, honey exports are not included in totals).

Source:  Plant & Food Research

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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