Little fruit, big profits: Pipfruit sector on its way to tripling exports

Rural Exchange 17/02/2018

With New Zealand’s perfect growing conditions for apples and pears, it’s no wonder that the pipfruit industry has long prospered by exporting overseas.

It’s projected to be another good year for the sector, with a forecast gross crop of 576,172 metric tonnes for 2018.

Gary Jones, business development manager for Pipfruit New Zealand, joined Rural Exchange to discuss the exciting future of the pipfruit industry in the country.

In 2012, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) announced its goal to double primary industry exports in dollars by 2025 by growing each industry by 5.5% a year.

The pipfruit industry has already gone above and beyond that. Mr Jones estimates that the industry is now raking in over $700m in exports, from an estimated $340m in 2012.

“In fact, we are looking at doing an export triple or quadruple within the same timeframe.

It’s certainly quite good times for the New Zealand apple industry.

“It’s been a complete turnaround in the structure of the industry, where we now focus on the consumer.”

The sector’s innovative breeding programme is precisely how they’ve expanded their exports to new markets. Mr Jones estimates that before, 90 percent of pipfruit exports were directed to Europe, the UK, and North America.

Now, the industry is exporting heavily in the Asian markets all the way to the Middle East.

“New Zealand has one of the best breeding programmes in the world for apples and pears,” Mr Jones explains.

After developing unique apple and pear varieties, the industry then can pinpoint locations around the world that have a demand for specific flavours, colours or textures.

Hawke's Bay is still king of the apple crop with roughly 65 percent of the country’s production, followed by Nelson and Central Otago.

“[The apple] is particularly particular in where it likes to thrive,” he told RadioLIVE.

Listen to the full interview with Gary Jones above. 

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