New research funding will support the pipfruit industry in opening the door for apple exports in new high-value Asian markets.
The $4.35 million Apple Futures II programme, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and leveraged by pipfruit industry investment, will support the development of new tools to control pests and diseases in the orchard and new systems to remove insects during postharvest.
The programme will build on a relationship spanning more than 20 years between the pipfruit sector and Plant & Food Research in developing integrated pest management programmes for pipfruit growers, securing access to key markets for New Zealand’s pipfruit exports.
“Access to new high-value markets is a priority for New Zealand’s pipfruit sector if we are to realise our goal of $1 billion of exports by 2022,” says Alan Pollard, CEO of Pipfruit New Zealand.
“There are increasingly stringent phytosanitary requirements in these markets, as well as a growing desire by consumers for reduced pesticide use. This funding will allow us to develop new tools and technologies that ensure we can deliver shipments that are free from pests and diseases and with no chemical residues on fruit, maintaining New Zealand’s reputation as a supplier of premium produce.”
Dr Bruce Campbell, COO of Plant & Food Research, said:
“By understanding the orchard system – the conditions under which diseases develop, when insect pest populations might pose greatest risk and how other organisms in the environment can contribute to controlling these – we have been able to put in place systems that allow growers to deliver fruit that meets the most stringent requirements. This new funding will allow us to ensure that New Zealand apple and pear growers can access key markets in which their fruit commands a premium price.”
New Zealand pipfruit generates approximately $500 million per year in exports, about a third of this from Asian markets.
It is estimated that the growing Asian market will, by 2022, generate close to $500 million annually on its own, representing about 50% of New Zealand’s pipfruit exports.