A million more new apple trees are being planted across the country as international demand for New Zealand apples continues to soar, the industry’s leader announced today.
Pipfruit New Zealand’s chief executive Alan Pollard, who is in Nelson for the Horticulture Conference said New Zealand’s world-leading apple industry is transforming into a billion dollar export business.
“All of our growing regions are experiencing increased industry investment. Our apple industry is putting tens and hundreds of millions of dollars back into the local economies of our growing regions with huge spin-offs for local businesses and for growing jobs.
Mr Pollard said Nelson’s Waimea Nurseries, which now has a three-year back order on some rootstock types, is one of many businesses experiencing growth on the back of the booming apple industry success.
Waimea’s Managing Director Mike Simpson said in four years his family’s business has literally doubled.
“We’ve gone from one extreme to the other, doubling production and employing more than 100 full time staff and have a plan for more growth.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time after experiencing the highs and lows of supplying the traditional cyclical primary sector, as the pipfruit industry has found more consistent profitability.
“For Nelson’s job growth it’s great to be able to contribute with new full time work opportunities and support regional economic development,” he said.
Waimea is one of four main nurseries in New Zealand servicing the apple industry and is supplying over 600,000 new apple trees annually.
“It’s been a big turnaround for us, as it has been for the industry which is now strongly positioned for the future and moving forward as the world’s most competitive apple industry.
“If you’d talked to me three or four years ago, I was hesitant about the future, but we’ve stuck with it. The real difference today is the industry has a vision, and a strategy that we can all buy into and be part of as the industry continues to lead on the international stage.
“There is always risk in business and you need to be prepared for the good times and bad, but given how far the industry has now come, I’m more confident of the future and forward planning.
“What we are seeing is growers pre-ordering rootstocks and waiting to select the variety as close to the time of planting as possible and keeping all options open.
“On average growers are paying about $15 for a two-year old trees. The cost of the tree is about a third cost of a new orchard development, excluding land so growers are making a huge investment back into their industry.
“We are seeing broad demand for varieties, however there is real excitement around the opportunities coming out of Asia for sweet red apples, along with the United States and continued demand out of Europe.”