15 Apr 2021

Exporters missing out on up to $24 billion of untapped global demand - report

8:09 am on 15 April 2021

A report by an economics consultancy firm has found up to $24 billion worth of untapped global demand for New Zealand products.

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Photo: AFP

Infometrics' analysis of some key exports, found there is plenty of room for growth in wine, seafood and aquaculture, wood products and logs, as well as food products, and identified new markets for some of those products.

"For example, with something like logs where we send a heck of a lot of those across to China and obviously very highly exposed to that demand in the Chinese market and how that might change over time, looking for opportunities for diversification and trying to identify other markets where we may be able to build the resilience in terms of the export sector," said the report's author and Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan.

The report focused on the export strengths of the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman areas, although the findings relate to products on a national basis.

Wine had $5.3 billion of additional export potential, Kiernan said.

"The opportunities for growth there are still very much in what we think is the established markets, the US and the UK for example were two that came through quite strongly.

"Although we do seem to [export a] fairly high proportion of our wine to those markets, we're still not sort of saturating them at this stage."

Wood products had the potential to grow by $4 billion, and seafood and aquaculture by $3.2 billion. Growth of that kind would quadruple those industries' current earnings.

There was also room for growth in dairy product exports, but in niche consumer areas such as ice cream.

"Some of the potential markets that were coming through there were the likes of Saudi Arabia or Indonesia and Malaysia, where there is potential to grow those export markets.

"The numbers aren't necessarily huge but in terms of what we currently do in the ice cream space, there is potential for growth there as long as we can meet the sort of requirements in terms of halal production," Kiernan said.

He said the report highlighted the potential demand for main exports, but did not consider whether producers could meet that demand, and what capacity constraints may be in the way.

The report warned New Zealand must avoid finding itself in Australia's position, at the mercy of China's imposition of tariffs on some of its exports.

"Suddenly, they are a lot less competitive because of those tariffs and they're having to try and scramble and find other markets to send the products to.

"New Zealand is in a similar boat, not as heavily exposed, but certainly across some of those export products like logs, there is a heavy exposure to China."

Kiernan said good returns from China might work in the near term but exporters needed to consider medium term risks.

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