New Zealand’s apple production and exports are forecast to rise in the marketing year 2021/22 (January 2022-December 2022) but remain far below expected due to continued shortages of harvest labor.
Reduced labor due to international border closures and a slowdown in picking and packing because of COVID-19 outbreaks amongst staff results in some lower-value apple orchard blocks not being harvested.
Also, intense rainfall in Hawke’s Bay delayed the start of harvesting, and there is not expected to be sufficient labor to catch up, which will also put pressure on production and export numbers. The number of apples for processing is also anticipated to remain relatively reduced. Companies prioritize their limited labor to pick those export-quality apples of the highest value.