NZ: More apples, and more going to Asia

Warmer weather, as well as an 'on' year following last season's lower production, will likely mean more apples and pears grown in New Zealand for the 2012/2013 season. That higher production will push up overall apple exports, more of which are going to Asia.

Because apples and pears both typically have seasons with large quantities of fruit following a year with low quantities, this year's apple and pear crops in New Zealand are expected to be higher than the previous season's short crops, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service report. Warm weather during the growing season is also expected to contribute to apple production that, at 481,000 MT, is expected to be 4.5% higher than the previous season's volume of 460,100 MT.

As with apples, pear production this season is expected to be higher than the previous year's production. The 2012/2013 season is likely to bring 14,200 MT of pears, which is higher than last year's mark of 12,500 MT. Volumes for both crops would have been higher, the USDA report noted, had not key growing regions been hit by hail and late frost.

Driven by more production, exports for both apples and pears is expected to rise for the 2012/2013 season. Pear exports will likely rise from the previous season's mark of 3,000 MT to 4,200 MT this year, and apple exports are expected to rise 3.5% from last season's mark to 293,000 MT.

A third of all exports will go to Asia, and within Asia, India is increasingly becoming a popular destination for New Zealand apples. 12,000 MT of apples were shipped to India during the 2011/2012 season, and that figure will rise to 18,000 MT for the 2012/2013 season, according to the USDA report. That figure is expected to increase further as recently planted acreage matures and bears fruit which is more suited to the Asian market. Currently, Braeburn and Jazz apples, which fit more with European consumer tastes, are being reduced, and acreage is being converted from those varieties to apples that are more popular in India and the greater Asian market.

Domestic consumption for both apples and pears is expected to stay largely unchanged from the most recent season, and total consumption for those commodities is expected to reach 61,500 MT and 10,300 MT, respectively.

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