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NZ annual fruit exports jump, led by record kiwifruit sales

Tuesday 26th July 2016

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New Zealand fruit exports have been the shining star of commodities over the past year, countering a weak period for exports of dairy products.

The country's merchandise exports advanced 2 percent to $49.34 billion in the 12 months ended June 30, Statistics New Zealand said. Fruit, the country's fourth-largest export commodity, jumped 31 percent to $2.63 billion, while dairy exports, the largest group, declined 7.3 percent to $11.16 billion, the agency said.

Fruit exports are going through a purple patch as previous investment in developing markets and varieties starts to pay off. The $617 million gain in annual fruit exports eclipsed a $250 million rise in forestry product exports and a $237 million increase in meat exports. The increase in annual fruit exports was led by kiwifruit, which set a new record, up 41 percent to $1.7 billion, while apple exports increased 23 percent.

ANZ rural economist Con Williams said the apple industry has developed new trademarked varieties that are favoured by higher returning Asian market, and the kiwifruit industry is more weighted towards the golden varieties which face less competitive pressure and are preferred in Asian countries for the sweeter taste, helping lift price premiums. That contrasts with the country’s dairy and meat industries, which have tended to position themselves as lower-cost producers, he said.

The data show annual merchandise imports advanced 2.5 percent to $52.65 billion, resulting in an annual trade deficit of $3.31 billion, in line with a Reuters poll of economists. That's wider than the $2.98 billion annual deficit a year earlier.

For the month of June, exports rose 2.6 percent to $4.26 billion from the same month a year earlier, as fruit exports gained 30 percent, Statistics NZ said. Kiwifruit led the rise as the value increased 47 percent and the volume rose 32 percent. Gold kiwifruit rose 65 percent in value and 49 percent in quantity, while green kiwifruit lifted 28 percent in value and 21 percent in quantity. 

Imports in the June month declined 4.6 percent to $4.13 billion, led by a 12 percent drop in intermediate goods. Processed industrial supplies, such as fertiliser, soya bean oil cake and palm oil cake, dropped 3.7 percent; primary industrial supplies excluding food and beverages, such as calcium phosphates, dropped 37 percent, while crude oil declined 24 percent, Statistics NZ said.

The trade surplus for the month was $127 million.

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