Photo: Mr. Apple
New Zealand’s apple sector forecasts a 14% drop in the volume of apples exported in 2021 compared to 2020. Industry association New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) projected export will reach just over 347,700 tons. Some of the causes in the fall are a shortage of available labour, significant hail damage in the Nelson and Central Otago regions, and small calibres.
New Zealand Apples and Pears CEO Alan Pollard said: “Labour availability on orchard and in our post-harvest operations is well short of numbers needed by the industry despite doing all we can to attract New Zealanders into work. In addition, the fruit size is coming in smaller on average than we forecast.”
Of the varieties exported, Braeburn is the most significantly affected. The revised estimate of 1.5 million cartons is 44% lower than the 2020 level. Royal Gala, New Zealand’s leading export variety, is forecast to be 15% down on 2020, Cripps Pink (marketed as Pink Lady) will be 15% down, and Fuji will be 19% down. In better news, protected club varieties such as Dazzle, Envy, Honeycrisp and Rockit continue to show strong growth as new plantings come into production.