New Zealand

Seeka's kiwifruit harvest in full swing

Seeka's kiwifruit harvest is in full swing across both New Zealand and Australia with the company cautiously assessing the effect of the dry summer with both countries experiencing hot dry conditions. Rainfall in New Zealand was unseasonably low through the first quarter, and in Australia, Shepparton was in drought conditions with temperatures regularly above 40 degrees.

Generally, harvest 2019 began early attributed to dry late summer conditions. In New Zealand; the SunGold harvest is nearing completion with Seeka over 96% packed. Attention is now focusing on Hayward.

In the case of Hayward, Seeka has processed approximately 30% of its crop. Yields from early orchards were below estimate and the company is watching the next phase of the harvest to ascertain full year crop volume.

Seeka has significantly refurbished its Oakside site including a significant machine upgrade, and had constructed a new packhouse and packing machine at its newly acquired Kerikeri site. Both machines have commissioned well and hit their targeted volumes.

The company also purchased the business of Aongatete Coolstores Limited just prior to the season adding between 4m and 4.5m trays of supply to the group. The Aongatete purchase included experienced staff supported by loyal growers.

Safety through the early part of the season had been a particular focus for Seeka as part of its sustainability drive. The SunGold crop which is increasing in volume puts pressure on labour numbers for a short period. A labour shortage has been declared, and has resulted in some easing of the shortage, but some shifts remain difficult to fully resource. Adding to this pressure, the structure of the early season meant that post-harvest operators worked long hours to achieve premiums for their growers in achieving payment deadlines. Seeka has advocated changes to the structure to deliver a better safety profile.

Seeka has completed the harvest of its Red variety which was successfully picked, packed and exported to Australia. The spectacular fruit has a striking red central star burst on a golden background and with its sweet, berry flavour which has been well received by consumers.

The harvest of Seeka's green kiwifruit grown in Australia is also underway for the domestic and export markets. The team has worked well under dry conditions to produce a great quality crop.

Given the early start, the season is expected to finish in late May. Seeka is satisfied with the service delivered to our growers to date and the fruit's quality and performance to the market. It looks forward to continuing a safe and successful 2019 kiwifruit harvest.

For more information:
Kim McFadden
Seeka
Kim.McFadden@seeka.co.nz

 

Source: www.freshplaza.com 

Slowdown, what slowdown?

China's 2018 fresh fruit imports are up 36 per cent over the prior year, despite the country's slowing economic growth
China’s 2018 fresh fruit import figures reflect no signs of the country’s reported economic slowdown, recording a 36 per cent rise in value over the prior year.

According to Fresh Intelligence analysis of the latest China Customs figures, China imported a total of 4.8m tonnes of fresh fruit in 2018, worth US$6.9bn. This is up from the 3.8m tonnes valued at US$5.1bn imported in 2017, and achieved during a year when China recorded its slowest economic growth since 1990.

Imports from Chile, Thailand and the Philippines showed the greatest growth in 2018: up 68 per cent, 67 per cent and 42 per cent respectively in value terms over the previous year, the data showed.

Chile was just ahead of Thailand as the largest supplier by value due to the high prices of its cherries and grapes, Fresh Intelligence’s Wayne Prowse explained. In volume terms Chile ranked fourth after Vietnam (1.23m tonnes), the Philippines (1.16m tonnes) and Thailand (767, 472 tonnes) with 387,728 tonnes in 2018.

Meanwhile, Thai imports increased 67 per cent in value over 2017, and were dominated by durians and mangosteens.

The Philippines ranked third in import value growth terms, with mostly bananas and pineapples, and was followed by Vietnam, with dragonfruit and longans.

New Zealand imports, mostly kiwifruit and apples, saw a 21 per cent growth in value during 2018, while Australia was just behind, dominated by grapes and citrus and showing growth of 19 per cent.

The US slipped to seventh from fifth position in China’s 2018 import value rankings, and was the only major trading partner to lose value by 31 per cent, the figures showed.

The US export decline to China reflects the impact of retaliatory tariffs and stricter customs controls on US imports due to the diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which began in July 2018.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Luisa Cheshire

New Zealand - Spotlight on quality avocado to Australia

Jen Scoular:

Normally there is a collective sigh of relief as NZ finishes an avocado export season but this year it's a different story. They experienced significant quality issues post-November, especially for their avocados going into the Australian market.

NZ harvests avocados five months of the year for export markets, and aim to harvest just in time to be cooled and packed, loaded on to the appropriate vessel, arrive in Australia to be cleared, trucked to the distribution centre or wholesale market and be available to customer orders.

Avocados are unlike kiwifruit and apples where they are all harvested at once, then coolstored until the market is ready. The tree is the coolstore, and post-harvest needs to be as speedy as possible.

Another challenge is that the New Zealand growing season is cooler and wetter than growing seasons in Western Australia, Chile, Peru and Mexico — who are NZ competitors.

 Source: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=12210443 

Michael Every of Rabobank: 'New Zealand could be forced to pick a side between US and China'

The US-China trade conflict is developing into a ‘cold’ war for global economic supremacy and could result in New Zealand being forced to pick a side between the two global superpowers, according to Rabobank’s Head of Financial Markets research for Asia-Pacific Michael Every.

And with this threat on the horizon, Mr Every says New Zealand’s agricultural sector should aim to reduce its reliance on individual trade partners and place an increased focus on diversification of its export markets.

Visiting New Zealand last week to speak at a number of Rabobank events in both North and South islands, Mr Every said he expected US-China relations to deteriorate further.

“The clash between the US and China is not going away, it’s not an aberration, it’s going to get worse,” he said.

“China and the US both want to be number one, they both want to be sitting in the driving seat for who gets to set the rules for the global economy and who everyone looks to as the global leader and there’s only room for one in that chair.”

Mr Every said increasing tensions could produce a scenario where New Zealand is forced to choose sides.

“China is aggressively pursuing trade expansion and there may come a time when a gun is put to New Zealand’s forehead and you’ll be asked are you with us, or are you with the US,” he said.

“If you answer the US, the Chinese could slam the door shut.”

Mr Every said China’s growing global influence and use of policies inconsistent with free trade had provoked the US to retaliate with tariffs on Chinese imports and other as anti-China trade policy.

“Last month the US concluded a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, which requires them to notify the US before entering into any agreements with non-market economies such as China. This was economic warfare dressed up as trade and the type of move the US may try to employ in the Asia-Pacific region.” he said.

In March this year, 11 nations, including New Zealand, signed up to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP was originally intended to include the US, but it withdrew from negotiations in 2017. In January, however, US President Donald Trump signalled he could push harder for “substantially better" Pacific trade deal for the US.

“At some point the US is going to come crashing back into the Asia-Pacific region because it’s so geopolitically important,” Mr Every said. “And the message may well be that the price of protecting New Zealand is a new trade deal on their terms and which forbids, or greatly restricts, dealing with China.”

An ultimatum from either of the US or China would place New Zealand in a perilous position given its significant trade ties with both countries.

New Zealand’s agricultural exports to China have grown rapidly in recent years and China is now New Zealand’s most important trading partner. New Zealand also has a significant trade relationship with the US as well as historically strong diplomatic and cultural ties.

Mr Every said New Zealand farmers and exporters should look to diversify offshore markets, before any concessions are demanded by the US or China.

“New Zealand’s agricultural sector should be looking to further develop links into new growth markets like Japan, Indonesia and India,” he said. “While this may take a lot more effort in the short-term, it will leave agricultural exporters in a better position should the US or China start making demands down the track."

“New Zealand needs to look at it as an opportunity, rather than a threat, and ask ‘what brand can we build for agriculture that allows us to thrive’, because trade protectionism won’t go away.”

Mr Every said with increased market volatility likely, New Zealand farmers should also be taking a close look at their balance sheets.

“Farmers would be wise to shore up their balance sheets so they are robust enough to cope with a scenario where one of New Zealand’s major trading partners withdraws from the market,” he said.

For more information:
Rabobank.com 


Publication date : 11/13/2018

Source: www.freshplaza.com 

New Zealand is beating Australia regarding Pacific work force

Both New Zealand and Australia want to attract tourist fruit pickers [‘backpackers’] and seasonal workers from around the Pacific. However, latterly the numbers are becoming somewhat skewered. For every 1,000 backpackers picking fruit and vegetables in New Zealand, there are about 3,000 seasonal workers from the Pacific. In Australia, the mix is different: for every 1,000 backpackers there are only about 250 Pacific seasonal workers.

The Australian outcome is what the research literature predicts: employers preferring the more flexible, much less regulated backpacker. It’s less hassle, and as recent media and academic research has shown, easier to get away with underpaying backpackers, where no government approval or reporting is required, than with seasonal workers, where stringent approval and reporting requirements are imposed.

How then to explain New Zealand’s contrary performance? There seem to be five factors which explain why New Zealand’s 2007 seasonal worker scheme (called the RSE or Recognised Seasonal Employer) has been much more popular than Australia’s 2009 Seasonal Worker Program (SWP).

First, New Zealand’s horticultural sector has a much stronger export orientation. As a result, the sector is more focused on quality and compliance, as stories of worker exploitation risk the loss of export markets. In contrast, Australian farmers are producing mainly for the domestic market, with little external scrutiny of workplace conditions and employee rights. They are focused primarily on costs rather than reputation.

Second, collective action is easier in New Zealand. New Zealand’s horticultural sector is much better organised than in Australia, and has a single peak body. It played a leading role in developing the RSE, and employs someone to promote it.

Third, the costs of regulatory compliance are also lower in New Zealand. Australia’s minimum wage is significantly higher than New Zealand’s, which creates a stronger incentive to avoid it.

Australia also has a weaker enforcement regime, making it less likely that you’ll be caught if you cheat. This is again due to the tyranny of size, but also because Australia has put less effort into developing a licensing regime for labour hire companies. This situation is now changing, which explains the growth of the SWP in recent years (as noted below).

Fourth, while Australia’s and New Zealand’s backpacker and seasonal worker schemes are very similar, there are subtle differences in their design, history and implementation, which have made a difference.

New Zealand introduced the RSE in 2007. At the time, Australia wasn’t prepared to follow suit. Instead, in response to farmers’ complaints about labour shortages, it introduced the second-year backpacker visa to funnel backpackers into agriculture in their first year with the offer of a second-year visa.

Finally, there is the simple fact that Australia simply attracts far more backpackers than New Zealand, making the potential pool of backpacker farm labour that much larger. In the 2017-18 financial year, Australia had 210,000 backpackers while New Zealand had only 70,000.

Source: asiancorrespondent.com via http://www.freshplaza.com


Publication date : 11/2/2018

Australia ratifies CPTPP

Joining five other nations, Australia’s commitment has triggered a 60-day countdown to tariff reductions
On 31 October, Australia became the sixth country to ratify its position in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11, and also known as the CPTPP).

Joining Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore in the first group to ratify the agreement means a majority sign-on triggers a 60-day countdown to the first round of tariff cuts.

The first tariff cuts under the agreement will enter into force on 30 December 2018. A second reduction will occur three days later on 1 January 2019.

For Australia, tariff reductions to Mexico are expected to benefit the horticulture sector, and the broader agriculture industry will see improved access.

Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam are also part of the agreement, but are yet to ratify their positions.

ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard is pleased by the ratification and looming tariff reductions.

"CPTPP brings Japan, Canada and Mexico into a trade deal with New Zealand for the first time. These countries have large markets that will now become progressively open to New Zealand goods and services, improving New Zealand’s trade earnings,” she said.

"Other country members of CPTPP will now also offer terms of trade more favourable to New Zealand exports.”

The New Zealand government expects items like buttercup squash into Japan to become tariff-free; onions to Japan to have tariffs removed within the next six years; and tariffs in other countries to be eliminated on a number of items like cherries, radish, carrot seed, kiwifruit, and avocado.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: Camellia Aebischer 

NZ - Country of Origin labelling a step closer to law

Horticulture New Zealand is thrilled that mandatory Country of Origin labelling for fruit and vegetables got a step closer today, with the second reading of the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill passing in Parliament.

"Our research showed that more than 70 percent of New Zealanders want mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for fruit and vegetables, so it is great to see the Government continuing to listen to consumers by progressing this Bill," Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

"This Bill has been a long time in the making and it underwent significant changes by the Primary Production Select Committee between its first reading and now. Ultimately, the outcome is what our growers want. That is, consumers can choose what to buy with full knowledge of where their fresh fruit and vegetables come from," Chapman says.

"Consumers want to be able to make choices based on their own beliefs and values. They may want to support local businesses, buy what is in season and grown locally, help keep and create jobs in their own area, or for that matter, buy products from other countries known for being the best at growing particular produce.

"We look forward to this passing into law, hopefully this year."

You can read the bill here.

For more information;
Josie Vidal
Horticulture New Zealand
Tel: +64 4470 5665
Mobile: +64 27 542 7475
www.hortnz.co.nz


Publication date : 10/18/2018

Source: www.freshplaza.com

Kiwi fruit claim costs New Zealand taxpayers $6 million plus in Biosecurity case

Taxpayers have so far spent $6 million to defend the kiwifruit claim case, and the Appeal Court hearing has yet to start. This will make it the most expensive primary sector court case on record.

In June, the 212 growers who joined a class action won a High Court case which found the Ministry for Primary Industries was negligent in allowing the disease Psa into the country in 2010. They are claiming $450m compensation.

MPI said it was taking the case to appeal because it sought to "clarify the scope for government regulators to be sued in negligence". It added the High Court finding had the potential to "significantly impact on the Ministry's biosecurity operations".

The claimants have filed a cross-appeal on the grounds that packer Seeka was owed a duty of care, contrary to the High Court finding, and that MPI was negligent in failing to inspect a shipment of banned kiwifruit plant material, infected with Psa, when it arrived from China.

The 12-week High Court case was funded by litigation funder the LPF Group, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson. As a funder of the class action, LPF Group is to receive a percentage of the compensation granted.

In response to an Official Information request, the Ministry for Primary Industries said the $6m figure did not include internal staffing costs, and it would not be possible to provide an exact figure for the total time spent by staff. The costs for consultants and experts paid directly by MPI was $400,000.

Source: stuff.co.nz via www.freshplaza.com 


Publication date : 9/17/2018