New Zealand's wholesale trade expanded for a 10th straight quarter, with strong sales for fruit exporters underpinning the gain.

Seasonally adjusted sales rose 2.6 per cent in the three months ended June 30, accelerating from a 0.3 per cent pace of expansion in March, Statistics New Zealand said. An 11 per cent increase in fruit exports through the month helped drive 3 per cent growth in wholesale sales of grocery, liquor and tobacco products.

"This industry's increase was led by greater sales for fruit exporters," wholesale trade manager Sue Chapman said. "Both kiwifruit and apple exporters had a very good quarter."

Wholesale trade covers intermediary transactions between manufacturers and consumers, which feeds into the national accounts and is used by economists to predict wider economic activity.


Sales of basic materials, which includes other agricultural products, hardware goods, metal and mineral, petroleum and timber wholesaling, rose 3.1 per cent, while machinery and equipment gained 3.5 per cent and motor vehicles and parts sales climbed 3.9 per cent. Other goods, such as clothing and footwear, pharmaceutical and toiletry goods, and paper products, increased 0.2 per cent, while commission-based wholesale sales snapped four quarters of expansion, falling 3.4 per cent.

Despite the increase in sales, inventories grew 4.1 per cent in the quarter, with motor vehicles and parts stocks jumping 14 per cent, grocery, food and liquor product stocks up 4.5 per cent, and machinery and equipment wholesale inventories increasing 3.4 per cent. Stocks of basic materials rose 1 per cent, while other goods stocks shrank 3.5 per cent.