New Zealand's $700 million apple industry has again been named the world's most competitive performer.
The World Apple Report, out this week, ranks New Zealand first over 33 major apple producing countries.
Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said it was a great achievement to have a competitive edge over the world.
"We know New Zealand is the best country in the world to grow apples. We've had a fantastic harvest. The size and quality of fruit is outstanding and we have produced another record earning export crop," he said.
"We are now well ahead of realising our goal to become a billion-dollar industry by 2022.
"Our provinces are prospering from the apple success, we are growing hundreds of full-time jobs across the sector in all areas including production, post harvest, logistics, marketing and exports. It's certainly a great time to be an apple-growing region," he said.
The international ranking depends not just on orchard systems but on the supporting supply and marketing infrastructure, and the broader economic and political environment it operates under.
The three areas of comparative performance include production efficiency, industry infrastructure and inputs, and financial and market factors.
New Zealand was in the top five for all categories, and first overall ahead of Chile and the United States, which had slipped from second to third place.
The World Apple Report said New Zealand was focusing on new or exclusive apple varieties that earned a substantial price premium in many international markets.
New Zealand had a long history of grooming new apple varieties aimed at niche, premium-priced markets.
Because its total exports were small relative to total world supplies, New Zealand shipments did not burden any single market, the report said.