More workers needed for harvest – NZIER report

12 Oct 2016



Horticulture and viticulture are, together, New Zealand's fourth largest export industry.  

In the year to June 2016, horticulture and viticulture earned $4.1 billion from exports, according to figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries' Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries 2016, with this predicted to rise to more than $5 billion by June 2017.

To ensure premium pricing in our export markets based on a quality product, we need skilled and timely labour for pruning, picking, packing and processing of our crops. The formula for continued growth starts with skilled and reliable workers being available at peak times, in particular during harvest, but also for pruning and other seasonal activities.

The 30 September 2016 NZIER report Horticulture and viticulture labour market forecasts - Kiwifruit, Pipfruit, Summerfruit and Wine grapes is an independent analysis of horticulture’s and viticulture’s labour requirements to support continued growth of these industries. It assesses the supply of workers and provides a robust labour forecast in the medium term. 

The NZIER report shows the following:

  • Between 27,600 and 35,800 people work in the horticulture and viticulture industries picking, pruning and packing each year.
  • Permanently employed New Zealanders and Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers are the most productive employees.
  • The peak gap for pickers, pruners and packers for 2016/17 ranges from a minimum of 1,000 workers to a worst case scenario of almost 6,000 workers.

This report provides the basis for determining how we can meet our labour requirements for the coming seasons, and is a very useful addition to our assessment toolbox.


- Mike Chapman, CEO