The pipfruit industry has received new government funding for pest and disease research to improve access for New Zealand apple exports to Asian markets.
The $4.3 million Apple Futures II programme will allow Plant and Food Research to continue the development of new techniques to control pests and diseases in the orchard and remove insects after harvest with the minimal use of chemicals.
Pipfruit New Zealand's chief executive Alan Pollard said that integrated pest management approach had been successfully used for fruit going to the main export markets in Europe.
"So for our aspiration of being a billion-dollar industry by 2022, there's a significant shift of supply from Europe into Asia. It's already about 33 percent of our exports - we anticipate by 2022 it will be half - and the focus in Asia is more around the phytosanitary challenges, pest and disease management and food safety, so Apple Futures II is designed to address those key areas.
"We're looking at more biological controls, we're looking at better management on orchard and post harvest, we're looking at alternatives to some of the treatments that our markets require us to undertake, all on the basis of giving greater assurance around pest and disease management and food safety."
Mr Pollard said Thailand and Taiwan are New Zealand's fourth and fifth biggest individual apple markets, but most of the growth will be in markets such as China and India.