Our Growing Future

7 May 2014

by Dr Bruce Campbell

We in New Zealand are part of a constantly evolving global economy. Change is ongoing, driven by global markets (for example, the rise of China) and by technological advances. A number of the sectors we work with at Plant & Food Research are benefiting, particularly the food and beverage sector. New Zealand’s exports are becoming more diverse, with emerging strengths in processed foods, high technology manufacturing and a range of commercial services. Our export mix is considerably more diverse today than in the past. Foods and beverages remain the heart of New Zealand’s exports, with strengths in dairy and meat increasingly supplemented by a growing range of high-growth potential high-value categories, including for example honey, salmon, wine and infant formula. For further discussion I suggest reading MBIE’s New Zealand Sectors Report 2014.

Looking specifically at the New Zealand horticulture industry, export growth is also visible. Recently the latest edition of Fresh Facts, the annual booklet of export facts and figures, was released, detailing that total horticultural exports in 2013 were over $3.6B, with horticulture now 8% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports. 

Looking at the 2013 export figures, it’s clear that growth isn’t universal across the board and that in any given year key crops can experience ups and downs. In the past year there have been increases in the value of apples (up $134M), wine (up $31M), onions (up $29M) and vegetable seeds (up $18M), offsetting reductions in kiwifruit (down $112M), avocados (down $63M) and squash (down $14M). 

For more information see Fresh Facts 2013

Measuring exports is one thing, but what does this mean for R&D? 

In my opinion the recent export figure is very good news for those of us working in R&D. The Government judges the success of CRIs like Plant & Food Research on the impact they are delivering to their respective industries. However, they are also quite clear in their desire for the business sectors in agriculture to spend more in science and innovation. Our role therefore is to deliver the R&D that supports the growth of our key industries, increasing profitability by adding value or reducing costs.

It pleases me to see our scientists working on both sides of this equation to demonstrate the ROI of R&D investment - on the one hand helping to fight industry issues like Psa in kiwifruit, TPP in potatoes, biennial bearing in avocados and the high cost of vineyard management; and on the other hand revolutionising the way the world fishes, understanding the health benefits of New Zealand berryfruits, and developing new and novel fruit cultivars. 

Ultimately whether we’re delivering new cultivars from our breeding programmes, protecting crops from pests and diseases, increasing sustainability or adding value through food innovation, our drive remains the same – the success of our industry partners.

Mike Shaw
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
Telephone: +64-9-925 8652
Mobile: +64-21-2419 417

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