Thursday, 06 June 2024 09:25

An industry that 'knows its onions'

Written by  Peter Burke
James Kuperus James Kuperus

Some smart planning by NZ’s onion growers has enabled them to quickly cash in on the Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the European Union which came into effect on May 1.

A key benefit of the FTA sees the removal of 9.6% tariffs on our onion exports there, a move that is expected to save our onion growers around $3 million annually. About 85% of the onions NZ produces are exported, mainly to Europe and Southeast Asia.

But with the 1 May deadline for the EU tariff removal looming, onion exporters decided to keep as much of their exports to the EU in customs facilities for a few weeks longer so that they could take advantage of the tariff free regime from the beginning of May.

Onions NZ chief executive James Kuperus says then on May 1 the onions were released from the customs facilities and were able to enter the EU duty free – “a great outcome for our people”. He says he’s not sure exactly what tonnage of onions were in storage but suggested that a figure of up to 35,000 tonnes total will enter the EU duty free this year.

“We’re very grateful to NZ Parliament for approving the FTA earlier than expected, allowing it to come into force when it did. Once we knew that, we were able to plan to gain the maximum benefit from this decision,” he says.

Kuperus says the FTA has come at a good time for the industry which has seen it bounce back from a couple of difficult years. He noted that about 40% of the onion crop in Hawke’s Bay was destroyed last year by Cyclone Gabrielle but the region has recovered well this season.

“Overall, we’ve had a very good growing season compared to other years, so our quality is much better. We have a much longer export season, we are going to be able to supply all our long-standing customers, so it’s been much kinder to our growers,” he says.

Kuperus says the outlook for the export of onions is good. He says there is increasing demand for the product and NZ is well placed to meet that demand – especially given our reputation for producing a high-quality product. He sees the key markets as Europe, Southeast Asia and China.

More like this

Hort's FTA windfall

NZ onion growers are getting an extra $3 million this season for exports to the European Union, thanks to the early ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA).

Tears of joy for onions

Onion growers will be saving $6.5 million on tariffs once the free trade agreement (FTA) with its number one market – the European Union – is ratified next year.

Tears of joy over EU FTA

The New Zealand onion industry has welcomed the recent signing of the free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).

Damper on NZ onion exports?

The recent wet weather in the Pukekohe area has added to pressures to get early onion export shipments away on time.


Insurance Council urges bold action

The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) is urging the Government to take a leadership role on climate adaptation and build New Zealand’s resilience against the impacts of climate change on lives and property.

Draft emissions plan a mixed bag

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says documents released as part of the Government’s second emissions reduction plan consultation contain some positive elements, but also concerning ones.

Feral cattle wreak havoc

According to John Roche, MPI, the saviour for Chatham Island farmers this season has been the weather.


Table grape grower eyes growth

With the first harvest of high-quality table grapes from 700 vines just completed, the attention of Japanese company Greencollar is…

Precision ag helps garner award

A not-so-humble spud has won another feather in the cap for a family horticulture business based at Southbridge, near Christchurch,…

Machinery & Products

Success for Argo tractors

The judges at last year’s Agritechnica event picked the Italian-built Landini Rex 4-120GT Robo- Shift Dynamic as the Best of…

Pollution into fertiliser

While the new government is sure to “tinker” with the previous administration’s emissions policy, a recent visit to New Zealand…

Smart money backs smart machine

Marlborough-based start-up SmartMachine claims its new machine is one of the most significant operational step changes for viticulture since the…

Robo packer hits a billion

New Zealand inventor and manufacturer Robotics Plus Limited’s fruit packing robot has hit a major milestone of one billion pieces…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound


OPINION: In 2021 a group of prominent academics got ’cancelled’ for daring to oppose changes to the school curriculum that…

Under pressure

OPINION: On top of the rural banking inquiry, several as-yet-unnamed banks are facing a complaint to the Financial Markets Authority…

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter