NZ growers:

‘Government data does not reflect farm challenges’

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.


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