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China's influence on New Zealand's horticulture industry continues, with a "massive growth spurt," in fruit and vegetable imports over the last few years, says Hayden Higgins.

Rabobank's Horticulture and Wine Analyst told The Country's Jamie Mackay, that China makes up about 28 per cent of New Zealand's fruit and vegetable exports.

New Zealand performs well in China compared to Australia, as the Aussies prefer to focus on the domestic economy said Higgins.


The countries to watch out for "in the fruit bowl" are Peru, Mexico, Chile and the US, who are all competitive in the Chinese market said Higgins, but New Zealand is still holding its own.

Rabobank's Hawkes Bay-based Horticulture and Wine Analyst Hayden Higgins. Photo / Supplied
Rabobank's Hawkes Bay-based Horticulture and Wine Analyst Hayden Higgins. Photo / Supplied

"We're actually performing pretty well. If you look at New Zealand from an import growth perspective of key fruit categories, we're actually performing at-like or better-than those key countries."

When it comes to local markets, Hawke's Bay-based Higgins said the apple harvest was "going pretty well," with good volume and quality being delivered to pack houses.

"The sentiment out there seems to be pretty positive."

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Although things are running smoothly, Higgins pointed out it was key to keep an eye on managing flows and stressed the importance of having enough labour.

"There's always a pinch point but as I understand it, people are getting the crop picked so I guess it depends how many RSE workers various companies have, or how many seasonal employees they're able to pick up."

A positive note from another successful crop will please Hawke's Bay red wine fans, said Higgins, who noted the 2019 vintage will be "one to watch out for."

Also in today's interview: Higgins takes a look at South America's influence on the world trade stage.