New Zealand’s apple and pear exports are on track to match last year’s levels despite bad frosts and lower European export levels, according to Pipfruit New Zealand.
Apple and pear crops are estimated to be 300,000 tonnes or 16.6 million cartons, down from last year’s exports of 302,000 tonnes. Royal Gala, the largest variety, will produce 5.7 million cartons for export, while Braeburn, has fallen to its lowest level in 20 year, down 2.4 percent to 3.3 million cartons.
“The predicted low crop for Braeburn is a response from growers who have struggled for years to obtain sustainable returns from Europe,” Peter Beaven, chief executive at Pipfruit NZ, said in a statement.
“In the previous five years we have seen significant production swings from year to year because apple trees tend to naturally biennial bearing and also because of frosts during flowering.”
The flat apple export volumes come as the quantity of fruit sold overseas grew 17 percent to a seasonally adjusted 755,000 tonnes last year, according to government figures. A big kiwifruit crop underpinned the sharp increase in the volume of fruit exports through November and December.
Beaven said exporters are targeting Asian markets in particular where there has been a solid growth in demand.
New Zealand supplies apples and pears to more than 60 countries each year, with the European Union and Asia and Middle East the nation’s biggest customers. Australia is New Zealand’s newest market, with the first apples in 90 years exported last year after the World Trade Organisation required Australian quarantine authorities to modify conditions.
The largest volume of exports comes from Hawke’s Bay on 61 percent and Nelson on 32 percent, with the remainder of crops from Central Otago, Waikato, Gisborne and the Wairarapa.