New Zealand’s horticulture sector has received praise for its ‘extraordinary achievements’ in the face of COVID-19-related challenges. At the recent HortNZ conference in Hamilton, Environment Minister David Parker said that the sector's export revenues are forecast to rise 2.3% for year ending June 2021. He noted that like other sectors, fruit and vegetable farmers and exporters have been dealing with local port congestion, labor shortages, global shipping delays and disruption to supply chains - all knock-on consequences of the pandemic.
However, for some fruit and vegetable growers, especially in parts of the South Island, hail and floods caused further misery. "And yet despite that, you have a success story and you continued to feed the country," Parker said at the conference. He noted that avocado and kiwifruit farmers have had record seasons with avocado exports set to rise 40% on the season prior and kiwifruit marketer Zespri's revenues up 14% on the 19-20 season.
While Parker acknowledged that some sectors had been badly impacted by Covid, he says success should be celebrated. "We acknowledge how tough it has been for some growers, with hail problems faced by apple and cherry growers in Central Otago. The Government thanks the horticulture sector for your efforts."