According to a fruit grower and industry body, data from the NZ government on industry successes does not always reflect what is really happening on farms. Cromwell cherry grower Alan Smith said there were colossal differences between what government data showed was happening in the primary industries and what was actually happening on farms.
Smith was responding after a Ministry for Primary Industries report showed the average export price of cherries rose to $24 per kilogram, and that cherry exports increased by 40.5% to $77.8 million with both higher volumes and prices contributing. The report also forecast horticulture export revenue to increase by 2% to $6.7 billion for the year.
Growers did not receive anything near $24 per kilogram, Smith said. According to him, he had recently stopped supplying to export pack houses and began a pick your own business as it generated 50% more returns. After picking costs and pack house deductions he received about $8 per kilogram. This had to cover all growing costs, Smith said.
Smith was paid for the quality of his cherries, with cherries for local markets returning as little as $2 per kilogram. He kept track of supermarket prices and said these cherries that were not good enough for export markets often sold for as much as $28 per kilogram in local supermarkets.