Fonterra's forecast milk price of $6.75/kgMS is looking shaky, bank economists agree.
However, Rabobank’s California-based senior fruit and vegetable analyst Dr Roland Fumasi says the industry must keep a close eye on evolving consumer consumption patterns if it is to maximise export opportunities.
In New Zealand last week to meet with local growers and to deliver a keynote address at the Horticulture New Zealand conference in Tauranga, Fumasi noted the growing middle-class population in developing countries had generated considerably greater global demand for fruit and vegetables.
“Rising incomes in the developing world have changed global eating habits over the last 25 years and this has favoured the fruit and vegetable category,” he says.
“While we’ve seen minimal change in global consumption of food categories such as cereals, pulses and oilcrops over this period, the fruit and vegetable category has flourished with global consumption rising from approximately 175 kg per capita per year in the early 1990s to well over 250kg per capita per year in recent years.”
The trend of increased fruit and vegetable consumption in developing countries is expected to continue over the coming decade.
Fumasi says over this period it also expects to see the percentage of the global middle-classes based in the Asia-Pacific region to climb higher and higher.
“This is obviously a big plus for New Zealand given its proximity to markets in this region.”
While there was great potential to increase fruit and vegetable exports into developing countries, Fumasi said that New Zealand’s global reputation as a supplier of top quality produce meant it should also be looking to target increased exports into developed markets in countries such as the US, Japan, Australia, the EU and Canada where consumers could pay premium prices.
“Fresh produce from New Zealand is very highly regarded not only in the US, but around the globe. New Zealand also stacks up really well in the fruit and vegetable export arena due to factors such as the strong industry organisation present here, New Zealand’s ability to supply counter-seasonal produce, and the ease of doing business with Kiwi companies,” he says.