The Port of Tauranga is continuing to operate 24/7 and productivity levels have jumped to record levels despite Covid-19 and no logs onsite.
Kiwifruit export volumes were higher than the same time last year and dairy was holding strong. But fears remain for the forestry industry as the sector prepares to return to work amid a labour shortage, tough market competition and smaller contractors going under.
Forest Industry Contractors Association chief executive Prue Younger estimated it had lost 25 per cent of its workers due to job uncertainty during the lockdown and ''we could lose export markets''.
China could look to other timber-producing countries in Europe and America, she said, which was a concern because that market had started to pick up post Covid-19.
Younger said there would be a ''lag-time'' moving to level 3 but that would allow the industry to get equipment ready and people back on board.
The sector had also partnered up with the Ministry of Social Development and undertaken a national recruitment campaign for silviculture to attract Kiwis.
The Bay of Plenty, which was part of the central North Island region, accounted for 34 per cent of forestry in New Zealand.
Phil Taylor, president of the Forest Owners Association, which represents a wide range of corporate companies with large assets to small forest owners, said everyone had ''been knocked around''.
He said there was a whole spectrum of impact. The larger corporates had more economic resilience ''so they're able to weather the storm better''.
Meanwhile, some smaller forestry contractors ''have been very badly impacted and are likely to have gone out of business''.
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But Taylor said others would survive with the Government support and ''they will be roaring and ready to get back to work''.
Inta-Wood Forestry owner Nathan Fogden had been contracting for 24 years and said it was a real struggle to get New Zealand workers.
He employed 25 staff but had work for 40 and the lockdown meant they were already behind schedule. Fogden was a supporter of increasing wages but said that would even be harder due to the money lost during the lockdown.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said there were no logs on the wharf because they had all been exported.
''It's looking pretty barren.''
He said forestry was a crucial industry and he welcomed the news it would be turned on again next week.
Despite the significant drop off in logs during the lockdown, Cairns said it had been setting productivity records.
''We were more than 20 per cent ahead of the national average last week in the container terminal. At the moment we are in the very busy kiwifruit and dairy export and we are also getting cargoes including apples from other smaller ports.''
Imports including medical supplies, equipment and food were arriving regularly.
Cairns credited the workers for keeping the port running day and night and said everyone was still employed although those that could were working from home.
Shifts on the port had been separated and strict hygiene procedures were in place while the most at-risk employees, the pilots who had to go on vessels with foreign crew, wore PPE gear, he said.
The port employs about 220 staff and 2000 people work at the Port of Tauranga's Mount Maunganui and Sulphur Point sites at any one time.
A Te Uru Rākau - Forestry New Zealand and Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said forestry contributed $6.8 billion to the New Zealand economy in 2019 compared with $6.3b in 2018 and ''we must attract workers to all parts of the forestry industry, including silviculture''.
Prior to Covid-19 it undertook a range of campaigns, promoting forestry careers to jobseekers and ran a successful joint-pilot to train prisoners and help them gain forestry jobs – alongside the Department of Corrections.
Ministry for Social Development clients filled 226 jobs in 2019.
''We are continuing our work to build the forestry sector despite the lockdown, aiming to be flexible to the changing environment.''
Zespri chief global supply officer Blair Hamill said more trays of fruit have been picked, packed and shipped compared with previous seasons, and they have also arrived in markets earlier than in previous seasons.
''It's a true testament to the collaboration and hard work of the wider kiwifruit industry that we have had such a record start to the season amid the uncertainty of Covid-19.''
Early sales in Japan and China had also been positive, and Zespri has seen strong demand for fresh produce continue across other key markets, he said.
In 2018/19 direct payments from the kiwifruit industry into the Bay of Plenty economy included $210 million in Katikati, $250m in Tauranga, $715m in Te Puke, $86m in Whakatane, $170m in Opotiki and $25m in Waihi.
A Fonterra spokeswoman said the main products exported from Tauranga were whole milk powder, cheese and butter.
Global dairy prices had remained relatively stable compared with other global commodities and demand for its products remains strong, she said.
''The whole milk powder price rose on the back of strong Asian participation while prices also rose for other core products such as butter, anhydrous milk fat and cheddar. One of our advantages is our scale, both in manufacturing, product mix and international market-places.''
''We have the ability to flex and change to adapt to hotspots around the world.''
Farmers were continuing to work hard, she said.
''It is basically business as usual for them, with a few extra precautions to keep themselves, their families, their workers and our tanker drivers safe. They are not experiencing disruption or a significant drop in production at this stage.''
Fonterra had about 30 employees based at the two distribution centres at the port.