Prediction: $1 billion of apples by 2022

7 January 2014

by Dr Bruce Campbell

It’s the year 2022. New Zealand has won the Rugby World Cup three times in a row, the i-tractor is a common occurrence on our farms, and apple exports have reached $1 billion.

Looking back, it is great to see that a government-funded programme that kicked off in 2013, Future Orchard Production Systems, has added an estimated $150 million to the pipfruit industry, with no overall increase in costs of production. The research showed that the 2013 configuration of orchards used only two thirds of the available light energy from the environment and by increasing light interception to 85%, a doubling of yield was possible. By redesigning how the tree canopy grows, the tree in 2022 now absorbs and converts more light energy into fruit. Coupled with the introduction of simpler, more efficient management techniques for the grower, the production and profitability of orchards in 2022 has been significantly increased.

Improved market access added $200 million for the industry by 2022. Ensuring New Zealand apples are accepted by all markets – both current and new customers – now relies on new decision support systems that reduce pesticide use and residues on fruit as well as postharvest technologies that ensure any insects on fruit are detected and removed before shipping. Just as shipments with pests can close a market, technologies that guarantee shipments meet stringent phytosanitary requirements now keep those markets open.

Keeping New Zealand’s name synonymous with high quality products has added an additional $200 million of export value. This required new tools and technologies that ensure apples are harvested at the right time both to meet the consumers’ requirements and to reduce postharvest losses. New premium varieties tailored for new markets and premium consumers also add value.

The goal of $1 billion of apple exports by 2022 was not one we shied away from. By investing in three broad areas of research – orchard productivity, market access and fruit quality – and ensuring uptake of new technologies across the industry, 2022 is a year for the New Zealand pipfruit industry to celebrate!

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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