Horticulture, led by a continuing kiwifruit sales bonanza, is expected to be New Zealand's fastest-growing primary export sector in the year ahead, according to Government forecasts.

The Ministry for Primary Industries' latest situation and outlook report says horticulture exports are forecast to rise by 13.1 per cent to $6.1 billion in the year ending June 2019, with kiwifruit export revenue expected to increase 23 per cent after a large harvest in March/April and due to rising kiwifruit prices.

Apple and pear export volumes for the 2018 calendar year are expected to top the 20 million carton milestone - 360,000 tonnes - last achieved 14 years ago, due to strong European and Asian market demand.

Overall, primary export revenues are forecast to lift by 2.5 per cent to nudge $44b in the period.


Dairy export revenue is tipped to rise 2.1 per cent from last year to just over $17b.

Meat and wool export revenues are forecast to shrink by 1.3 per cent to $9.4b in the period with export volumes expected to fall from this year's high levels. Revenues gained 14.2 per cent in 2018. Lamb and venison prices are expected to rise even further after a record 2018 year.

Forestry export revenues should hold near this year's levels with log demand from China's construction industry thought to remain steady, said MPI.

Looking out to 2020, MPI said growth will increasingly come from getting more value from existing sector assets and development of new, higher value products, such as Zespri's highly successful Gold3 kiwifruit.

"The trajectory of primary sector production and exports would depend on the industry's response to an evolving operating environment, include trade disruption, shifting consumer preferences, increasing risk of pest incursion and the focus on sustainability, MPI said.