A challenging year but our fundamentals are right

22 December 2021

HortNZ Chief Executive, Nadine Tunley, at the 2021 Nelson Young Grower.

HortNZ Chief Executive, Nadine Tunley, at the 2021 Nelson Young Grower.

To say 2021 has been a challenging year for growers would be an understatement.

It was articulated to me this week as “we are trying to run our businesses, when we have no control or influence of the rules we are required to operate in, none”.

As a believer that a negative mindset perpetuates negative outcomes, it is important that now, more than ever, we keep our messaging positive and upbeat. In doing so, the sector opens itself up to greater opportunities and growth.

I do, however, want to acknowledge that you have all been through several tough, unrelenting months. As you all start to hit the busiest time of the year those challenges will continue.

Our industry has come together and worked with government to find ways through. This allowed you to do what you do best – continue to grow fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables at a time when New Zealanders and people across the world need them the most. 

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released the latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries last week. Radio New Zealand’s headline said it all: ‘After falling last year, primary sector exports are back on a growth trajectory and forecast to pass the $50 billion mark for the first time’.

For horticulture, the report said, ‘increased production for kiwifruit and apples is expected’ in the year to 30 June 2022 and that ‘consumer demand for fresh fruit… has remained strong despite Covid related disruptions, and this is expected to continue’

You can read that sentence two ways. But I think it is fair to say that both demand and certainly disruption will continue, as I outlined last week. 

The report focuses only on exports, highlighting the fruit groups of our industry; however, it does note that Vegetable growers have had to take several Covid related factors into account for their spring 2021 planting programmes, including reduced demand from the domestic hospitality and tourism sectors and seasonal labour concerns’.

In the domestic space, we are now in a Covid-management environment. With that comes the hope that business, especially those in the hospitality sector, will slowly recover, with a flow on effect in terms of demand for vegetables. 

We can only hope that 2022 will bring a better operating environment, with the resumption of some semblance of normality. New Zealand as a whole, owes all of you a huge acknowledgement of gratitude for persevering through one of the toughest producing environments in history. You have all done an incredible job and I know on Christmas Day when I sit with my family, I will be deeply thankful for the fresh produce that will grace our table.

While most of New Zealand takes a break at Christmas, ‘essential’ industries like ours do not.  Indeed, Christmas and the ensuing summer months is one of the busiest times of the year.  However, within that, I hope that everyone in our industry can find a moment of respite to relax with family and friends over the Christmas break and recharge their batteries somewhat. 


How to contact HortNZ over Christmas / the New Year

HortNZ's office will be closed from the afternoon of Friday 24 December to the morning of Monday 10 January.  If you need advice over this period, please call (04) 472 3795.