The tractor sales industry finished 2020 on a strong note with December sales up 18.4 per cent on 2019.
Tractor and Machinery Association president Kyle Baxter said that, while 2020 definitely posed challenges for the industry, the current mood of members was positive.
Overall tractor sales for 2020 were down 15.3 per cent compared with 2019, with sales for the bigger machines (375+ HP) particularly affected, with a drop of 25 per cent.
Nobody in the industry was surprised with the reduction in sales for the high-end tractor investments, Baxter said.
"Tractor distribution companies had been envisaging a reduction in sales going into 2020, however, as a result of the pandemic, sales reduced slightly more than expected."
Certain HP segments actually remained stronger than others over the year, particularly lifestyle tractors (20-30HP), for which sales volumes were very similar to 2019.
Tractors sold in the viticulture and horticulture segments (80-100HP), also bolstered annual sales volumes, with a reduction of only about 5 per cent, compared to 2019's record breaking year.
Harder hit was the higher horsepower tractor segment traditionally sold into the arable / cropping and dry stock farming sector (140 -375 HP), with about a 20 per cent reduction in sales volume from 2019.
This segment accounted for a lot of the tractors sold into contractors and hire fleets, which were affected by the general uncertainties around the pandemic, Baxter said.
"They also experienced further uncertainty in obtaining sufficient workers through the spring and summer season to operate these machines, with a consequential reduction in the yearly sales volumes of larger tractors."
Association members were now reporting that demand for tractors and equipment was steadily building across the country, as customers were beginning to secure their machines for spring/summer 2021.
However, the pandemic was continuing to disrupt the overseas supply chain across Europe, America and Asia, Baxter said.
"While New Zealand members are doing everything they can to ensure machines arrive on time for the season ahead, there will be potential delays in global manufacturing and international shipping routes that could be felt during the first half of the year."
Baxter advised members to stay well informed of any shipping delays via their overseas manufacturers and shipping companies, and to liaise with their customers who may be affected by these delays.
"On a positive note for 2021, our members who manufacture within New Zealand are reporting strong order banks for their equipment from customers. This is very good news and another sign that our primary industry is still feeling buoyant amongst the global turmoil."