Apples and pears have been a New Zealand treasure since the first trees were planted in Kerikeri by missionary Samuel Marsden in 1819. Two centuries later, the top fruit industry is a significant earner for the nation’s economy, on track to achieve its goal of $1 billion in export earnings by 2022.
Last week, NZ Apples and Pears Inc -the industry body that represents the country’s top fruit industry- celebrated the 200 year milestone with a gathering at Parliament hosted by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. O’Connor says the apples and pears industry is a significant contributor to New Zealand’s export revenue, its regional economy and employment.
“Occasions like this are a great opportunity to celebrate how fast the industry is growing and plan for future success. Our apple and pear exports are in high demand – the volume of production is increasing and higher prices are being achieved. The industry’s exports increased in value from $370 million in 2012 to $870 million in 2019, which reflects an increase in both the volume and value of exports, driven by changes in variety mix and a shift in market focus from Europe to Asia. I would like to acknowledge New Zealand Apples and Pears and all industry for the commitment and hard work they have put into growing this sector.”
NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said he was delighted that Ministers, MPs, officials, industry leaders past and present and industry colleagues could join the team to celebrate the bicentenary. “Introducing apples and pears into New Zealand in 1819, Samuel Marsden couldn’t have imagined that he was laying the foundation for what would become the world’s most competitive apple industry, recognised for leading edge varietal development, and on orchard and post-harvest innovation.”
“The industry is proud of what it has achieved and its contribution to the country’s health, wealth and well-being. It is one of the most successful apple and pear industries in the world, sustainably producing safe and quality fruit that consumers in over 80 countries around the world enjoy and can rely on.”
As reported on voxy.co.nz¸ provincial New Zealand has benefited hugely from the growth in the top fruit industry, employing around 3,500 permanent staff and 15,000 seasonal staff and responsible for bringing in between $2.6b and $4.3b in indirect economic benefit to the provinces.