16 Feb 2024

Cherry exports up 7% in bumper stonefruit season

3:01 pm on 16 February 2024

Photo: Joanna Kosinka

A stellar summer has made for a great export season of New Zealand-grown stone fruits, including cherries.

Cherry orchards have closed down their packhouses after sending thousands of tonnes abroad this summer and the export season comes to an end.

Industry body Summerfruit New Zealand chief executive Kate Hellstrom said good, sunny weather in key growing region Central Otago over the past few months has seen high volumes sold abroad and domestically.

Hellstrom said nearly 3800 tonnes of cherries were exported this season, up about 7 percent on last year - with Taiwan and China taking out the highest volumes.

"Certainly it's the biggest yield we've had in a number of years," Hellstrom said.

"In the recent past, we haven't managed to meet those volumes because of weather challenges and of course that labour supply issue during border closure years."

Woman picking ripe apricot from tree outdoors, closeup

About 80 tonnes of apricots have also been exported. Photo: 123RF

She said nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots were still trickling through into international markets.

The group's export data showed good volumes of apricots have been exported this season too.

About 80 tonnes have been despatched which was up 47 tonnes on last year's low export crop.

Hellstrom said last year's crop was marred by wet weather.

She said growers made the most of favourable weather this season, especially in Central Otago.

"Last year was quite dismal for apricots just because we had very low sunshine hours in both Hawke's Bay and Central Otago - that was last season.

"This season, the Hawke's Bay growers, some are very much still feeling the aftermath of the recovery effects from Cyclone Gabrielle, which has just had its annual anniversary, and they'll still be recovering for some time.

"But the Central Otago apricots are going really well and there are still good volumes of them in the domestic market."

Hellstrom said volumes of Hawke's Bay summerfruit were down an estimated 40 percent on overall volumes, depending on variety, location and damage after Cyclone Gabrielle.

She said profitability was still a significant issue for Hawke's Bay growers - especially following three tough seasons before the cyclone.

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