New Zealand Potato Production
New Zealand Potato production in 2013, at 525,000 metric tons, was marginally (5%) ahead of 2012 production. Tomato Potato Pysllid is still causing damage and increased costs for control. Integrated Pest Management and mesh covering hold considerable promise for efficient control of the pest. It is likely planted areas in 2014 will be similar to 2013, with production in the range of 500,000 to 550,000MT.
Export of potatoes and potato products
Exports in 2013 bounced back up to reach 100,967 metric tons (MT), nearly 15% ahead of 2012. So far for 2014 exports are on a par with 2013 with no significant change to product mix.
Overall New Zealand’s potato export volumes in 2013 recovered ground lost to competition from the EU in 2012.
Australia, the major export market for New Zealand, only takes processed French Fries or other processed potato products from New Zealand. Potatoes New Zealand is working to get market access for fresh potatoes which would be shipped to transitional facilities and processed directly.
Progress has been delayed again with an Australian Senate trade committee maintaining the ban on fresh imports until an Import Risk Analysis has been completed. New Zealand says this won’t have a different outcome to the Australian Department of Agriculture (formerly Agriculture, Fisheries, & Forestry) 2009 Pest Risk Assessment (PRA). The main issue is the threat of Tomato Potato Psyllid entering Australia which the PRA said “posed no substantive concerns” for the Australian potato industry under the proposed fresh potato entry conditions.
Fiji is by far and away New Zealand’s biggest volume market for fresh potatoes. Exports to Fiji in 2012 and 2013 increased approximately 15% in volume compared to previous years. However there are still doubts over the efficiency of the marketing chain. It is felt more value could be returned to growers back in New Zealand.
New Zealand seems to have permanently lost market share to competition from EU exports in markets such as: Malaysia; Thailand; Indonesia; and Singapore. Additionally extra compliance costs for testing for example have decreased margins, making these destinations largely uneconomic.
Exports of French Fries to China have grown from nothing in 2008 to 1,541MT in 2013. The potential for further growth in NZ french fry exports to China is significant.
A subsidiary unit of Potatoes NZ, the Export Market Development Group (EMDG), which provides marketing support for the sector, has refreshed its approach with several initiatives that appear to be targeting enhanced human capability and skills among the exporting fraternity. The new programs are:
- A cut down MBA style program focusing on off-shore markets for sector participants;
- Market exploratory grants up to NZ$5,000;
- Market development grants of NZ$5,000 to NZ$25,000; and
- A weekly export report on value and volumes with a focus on Fiji.
EMDG is also focusing is on new access for potatoes to Vietnam, and improved potato access to South Korea. Proposed draft requirements for fresh potatoes for consumption and processing have been received from Vietnam.
Research on the efficacy of washing and use of other post-harvest treatments for removing PCN cysts demonstrated that washing is an effective post-harvest treatment and has provided a basis for a proposal to the Republic of Korea (and potentially other markets) to reduce the soil testing requirements.