New Zealand’s apple harvest hit by labour shortage

Tue 24/05/2022 by Richard Wilkinson
two red apples isolated. Copyright: azerbaijan_stockers/Freepik.

New Zealand’s apple production and exports are forecast to rise in marketing year 2021/22 (January 2022-December 2022), but remain far below levels previously expected as a result of continued shortages of harvest labour. The combination of reduced labour due to international border closures, as well as a slowdown in picking and packing because of Covid-19 outbreaks amongst staff, is resulting in some lower-value apple orchard blocks not being harvested. Also, heavy rainfall in the Hawke’s Bay area delayed the start of harvesting, and there is not expected to be sufficient labour to catch up, which will also put pressure on production and export numbers. The number of apples for processing is also anticipated to remain relatively reduced, as producers are prioritising the picking of export-quality apples which are of higher value.

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