Horticulture

Once you've crunched into a crisp, juicy New Zealand apple or experienced the slightly tart, sweet soft flesh of a perfectly ripened kiwifruit, you'll know why our horticulture is special. 

Our climate, water and soil provide optimum conditions for beautiful-tasting produce and New Zealand know-how takes it to new levels of freshness and quality. 

New Zealand also has some of the world's most stringent biosecurity regulations keeping our orchards and produce free of the world's major pests and diseases.

New Zealand's horticultural sector combines natural advantages with human innovation and world-leading technology to produce and export a wide variety of premium fruit and vegetable products. Key strengths include New Zealand's clean, green environment, diverse geography and climate, and excellent soil quality.

The sector is based largely on the export of kiwifruit, pipfruit, wine and fresh and processed vegetables. In the year to December 2014, horticulture exports were valued at over NZ$3.9 billion, with wine, kiwifruit, apples (fresh & processed), and potatoes making up 76 percent of export value. Kiwifruit exports, valued at $1 billion, accounted for more than 42 percent of all horticulture exports in 2014. 

The industry is committed to ensuring fresh and processed foods are safe, farm production systems are sustainable, and the use of agrichemicals is minimised. Monitoring and traceability systems provide further quality assurance.

Growers are continually seeking ways to further enhance the products they sell to the international market. Research is also producing fruits with greater health benefits and consumer convenience, such as citrus with easily peeled rind, seedless fruit and fruit of increased size. For example, ZESPRI® Gold kiwifruit, a natural development by New Zealand kiwifruit growers, is a better source of vitamin C than supplements. As well as fresh produce, New Zealand is a major exporter of processed fruit and vegetables.

Leading technology, such as snap-freezing vegetables to protect them from nutrient loss and to retain flavour, gives this sector a competitive advantage. New Zealand is pioneering the development of organic fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. 

New Zealand also has a small and specialised flower industry. Its strengths include the quality of flowers and bulb exports, and an ability to supply the northern hemisphere during its off season. The industry's focus is on high quality and increasing the quantities of vibrantly coloured, well-formed new generations of existing varieties.

Sustainability in focus

Environmental sustainability is a key focus for New Zealand's horticulture industry. A range of programmes are successfully combining economic criteria, such as improved yield and quality, with environmentally friendly and sustainable production practices.

A project run by the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), invests in farmers, growers and forester-led projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits to New Zealand's land-based primary industries.

Organics

Organic systems production is an important section of New Zealand's horticultural production, although currently it is a relatively small portion of total horticultural production. New Zealand's fertile soils, clean water and outstanding animal and plant health status make it an ideal place to grow organically. The industry body, Organics Aotearoa New Zealand, has recognised 720 organic operations in 2012, with horticultural products poised to be a key component of increased production.

New Zealand has approximately 80 organic pipfruit orchards, which is a 40 percent increase from 2006. Around five percent of New Zealand's exported kiwifruit and pipfruit is organic. Organic vegetables (ie peas, sweet corn, carrots, potatoes and onions) are also high earning exports. Production of organic avocados, citrus fruit, berry fruits, stone fruit and feijoas is also steadily increasing.

Innovation

  • New Zealand government encourages innovation and invention in the horticulture sector. For example, the Primary Growth Partnership is a government-industry partnership, which was launched in 2009. The partnership has pledged NZ$477 million towards cutting-edge primary sector innovation.
  • The New Zealand government research institute, Plant and Food Research, in association with New Zealand's Avocado Industry Council (AIC), has tested and proved a technology called Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere (DCA). The technology can commercially be used on avocados to prevent the fruit from ripening while in transit.
  • The Ministry of Science and Innovation is funding a researcher to combat the PSA disease that has affected New Zealand's NZ$1 billion kiwifruit industry. The research is aimed at combatting the spread of the bacterium.
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