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18 December 2002
New Zealand's apple exports for the 2002/03 season are expected to fall by about 12 percent to 14.5-million cartons due to frost damage at the time of blossom.
That's according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's latest Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture and Forestry report.
The report is, however, not all bad news with forecasted returns to growers expected to increase to around $13.15 per carton for the season.
And the following season's export volumes are forecast to rise to 17-and-a-half million cartons and remain unchanged out to 2005/06.
The report's author, Jagdish Prasad, says improvements in apple returns over the last two seasons have resulted in a renewed interest in apple orchards and anecdotal evidence points to a growing demand for apple trees from nurseries.
"The resurgence of confidence in the apple sector reflects higher grower returns over the past two seasons, industry deregulation, and premium prices on the world market," he says.
For the 2001/02 period, the average grower export returns are estimated to have been $12.30 per carton - up five percent on the previous season. Apple exports jumped 21 percent to 17.7 million cartons for the year ended September 2002.
In the longer term, the apple sector is in a good position to continue to supply consistently superior apples to world markets.
A recent North American survey revealed that the New Zealand apple varieties Gala and Braeburn are the two top apple varieties chosen by retailers, and as a preferred apple supplier, New Zealand rated only slightly behind Washington State.
ENZA over a long period of time maintained a high position as supplier of consistent and excellent quality New Zealand apples to the world market. But Mr Prasad says it remains to be seen whether the various new players in the market will uphold that reputation.
The SONZAF report predicts apples will continue to face strong competition from other fruits and manufactured snacks on supermarket shelves.
It says it is critical the industry continues to invest in research and development and produce apples that are truly unique and generate consumer interest.
For further information, please contact:
Chris Ward, Senior Policy Analyst, MAF Policy