Hawke's Bay's share of the apples and pairs export market could top $660 million annually as the industry swoops on a $1 billion-a-year target by the end of the next financial year.
The forecast comes from figures revealed at the annual meeting of Hastings-based New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZPAI) on Wednesday, relayed by Zoom conferencing to growers throughout the country.
The 10-season target was set in 2013 at the annual conference of what was then known as Pipfruit NZ.
The meeting this week was told the value of the export market had since climbed by more than $500 million to $870 million in the year to the end of March.
Hawke's Bay, at about $580 million, accounts for two-thirds, and the value of the export crop is expected to increase despite the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Chief executive Alan Pollard says about 85 per cent of that increase is because of an increase in value rather than volume, as the industry continues to extract greater value out of each metric tonne sold.
It was noted the latest figures reflect pre-pandemic growing and selling, but Pollard said: "With export earnings at this level, and despite the impact of Covid-19, with the right regulatory and policy settings in place to support industry confidence and growth, the apple and pear industry is well placed to reach its $1billion target by 2022 and $2 billion by 2030."
Gross volume for the 2019/20 crop reached 566,200 metric tonnes (mT), similar to the previous year, but the proportion of the crop that is exported rose 5 per cent, to 395,000 mT.
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Pollard said the focus for the next year would be on how the pipfruit sector could help New Zealand to rebuild and recover post-Covid.
The industry plays a crucial role, with NZAPI collaborating with the Government and across the horticulture sector to identify opportunities domestically and overseas.
"This will lead to growth and innovation across horticulture, increased sustainable job opportunities for New Zealanders, and a shot in the arm for provinces at a time when they really need it," said Pollard, who was appointed to the position in 2012 and has led the industry throughout the period of the $1 billion growth strategy.
Independent NZAPI chairman Richard Punter said the board of seven grower directors and one independent director included knowledge and experience across the supply chain.
"This will be important as the organisation and industry seeks to take advantage of the opportunities that a post-Covid 19 world will bring."