Italian kiwifruit packhouses' experience in dealing with COVID-19 has helped New Zealand to fast-track innovation in its own packhouses to deal with stringent new safety regulations.
Horticulture jumped 13.7% in the year ended June 2019 to $6.1 billion, according to MPI’s Situation and Outlook September update.
But dairy was the biggest in monetary terms, growing 8.7% to $18.1b – a $1.47b increase.
Overall primary exports were also up 8.7% to $46.4b to the year ending June 2017 but are expected to drop 0.5% in the current year to $46.2b.
Prices are forecast to remain high for most products, but lower export volumes are forecast in most sectors, says the report.
Horticulture export revenue is forecast to grow 3.8% to $6.3b in the year ended June 2020, with slightly lower yields in the main crops contributing to lower growth this year.
New Zealand apple exports to China in the first half of 2019 were double that for the same period last year.
Apple and pear export revenue for the calendar year 2019 is expected to exceed $800 million due to increases in both export volumes and prices.
Strong demand from Asian markets, in particular China, has helped offset weaker demand in Europe, the latter attributable to large domestic stocks from the 2018 harvest.
Export prices have dropped for apple varieties mainly sold in Europe, such as Braeburn.
Higher kiwifruit prices bring the forecast revenue up 4.5% to $2.53b for the kiwifruit season ending March 2020, despite production volumes for 2019-20 being on par to slightly below last season.
The recent harvest notably saw gold kiwifruit production volume overtake green for the first time, with some green kiwifruit areas being replaced by new gold licence releases.
The early start to the gold kiwifruit harvest saw March and April break records for export volume and revenue. Kiwifruit export prices have held through June and are expected to remain strong throughout the export season.