A bumper crop of apples in the Hawke's Bay means the pipfruit industry is having difficulty finding enough labour to pick 14 million cartons of apples in just 21 days.

Chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears Alan Pollard spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay saying he's very proud of the sector which is going from "strength to strength" and is "well on target" to becoming a billion-dollar export industry.

Pollard admits it will be a challenge to pick the apples as "the harvest window doesn't change," even though there are more trees coming into production.

There are schemes under way to get people to pick apples but Pollards says it has been tougher due to a low unemployment rate in the Hawke's Bay and fewer backpackers visiting the region. Pollard also says there is a programme in place to get Hawke's Bay Prison inmates to pick apples which has been very successful.


Mackay suggests perhaps the answer lies with foreign workers. Pollard says the priority is to get New Zealanders into work but acknowledges there is a balance of Kiwi and skilled overseas workers in the industry.

"We could take all of the New Zealanders available and still have a shortage of people."

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