Source:Horticulture New Zealand | Deloitte
New Zealand’s domestic vegetable production is becoming more important. New Zealanders are fortunate to have the majority of their fresh fruit and vegetables locally grown and available for domestic consumption, spending over $1.3 billion on vegetables and approximately $970 million on fruit annually. This is set to increase further as our population expands and consumer preferences change; however, there are significant challenges that could stand in the way of increasing production to meet this growing appetite.
An increasing consumer awareness of the ability of food to advance or decline wellbeing has resulted in a clear demand shift towards consumption of products with perceived health benefits. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that between 2010 and 2050, the demand for fruit and vegetables will increase by 90%, and significantly exceed estimated global population growth of 30%. Closer to home, a recent survey by the Ministry of Health showed that average vegetable consumption per capita is greater than average fruit consumption.
Yet, our horticulture land is diminishing. Between 1996 and 2012 urban growth saw the size of towns and cities grow by 10%. From 2002 to 2016 the country’s vegetable-growing land reduced by 30%. Significant, and often swift, land use change in New Zealand is putting increased pressure on our growing hubs to keep up with the mounting demand for fruit and vegetables.
In this context, this report focuses on one of New Zealand’s food growing hubs, Pukekohe (‘Pukekohe hub’ or the ‘hub’). For an area accounting for only 3.8% of New Zealand’s total hectares of fruit and vegetable production, the Pukekohe hub punches far above its weight. The revenue generated by the hub’s horticulture businesses of $327 million equates to 26% of New Zealand’s total domestic value of vegetable production, and to a lesser extent of fruit.
Defining the Pukekohe growing hub
The Pukekohe hub is an area comprising 4,359 hectares of some of New Zealand’s most fertile and productive soils. The hub’s temperate, forgiving climate and proximity to essential transport routes makes it ideally located to supply year-round vegetables to our biggest – and fastest growing – region, Auckland.
For the purposes of this report, the Pukekohe hub encompasses Paerata and Patumahoe to the North, Aka Aka to the west, Pokeno to the east and borders on Onewhero and Pukekawa to the south (refer Figure 2 on page 13). Horticulture activities, referenced in this report, includes the growing and primary processing of defined produce within the hub, and also includes the processing of produce grown outside the hub, if the processing occurs within the hub.
Horticulture cultivation in this growing hub is largely focused on the supply of domestic fresh vegetables including potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, brassicas, tomatoes and onions. The Pukekohe hub is world famous for its Pukekohe Longkeeper onion, which is exported globally. Kiwifruit are also grown in the northwest of the hub, largely for export. (Executive summary pages 5-6)