Fresh Hub – Food Safety & Quality, Survey and IVA Newsletter

Fresh Hub is the AgriChain Centre’s own regular communication tool for Food Businesses & Produce Handlers.

We aim to inform and assist produce staff in understanding how to handle the produce to be sure it reaches the consumer in the optimum condition to ensure repeat sales. We also provide the latest developments in the area of Food Safety & Quality, Survey and IVA and assist in understanding how food businesses can satisfy all requirements.

Click here to view our archive of previous newsletters, or scroll down to view the latest food safety articles.


Welcome to Fresh Hub: our Fresh Produce Newsletter. This issue looks at some ongoing challenges for the fresh produce industry.

This edition, we cover:

How Big is the NZ Fresh Produce Industry?

The 2018 Annual Fresh Facts has been released recently and shows that the New Zealand Horticulture industry has grown enormously over the past 20 years.

Total investment in New Zealand’s horticultural sector was estimated to be in excess of $54b in 2018, compared with $40b in 2015 (inclusive of off-farm post-harvest facilities). The estimated 5,500 commercial fruit and vegetable growers employ approximately 60,000 people. The total area in cultivated horticultural crops is estimated to be 135,000 hectares, 60% of which is apples, wine, grapes, kiwifruit, potatoes and vegetable seed growing.

Domestic Consumer Spending

In 2016 New Zealand households spent an estimated $2.2b on fruit and vegetables (excluding wine) and $800m on imported produce.

Trends indicate a strong desire by consumers to buy fruit and vegetables that are locally grown.  71% of New Zealanders want to know where their fruit and vegetables come from and 70% also want to buy New Zealand-grown.

Top fruit consumer spending in 2016 was bananas, apples, grapes, mandarins, avocados, oranges, strawberries, dried currants/raisins/sultanas, kiwifruit and peaches.

Top vegetable consumer spending in 2016 was potatoes and potato products, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, capsicum, broccoli, onions, kumara, carrots and beans. Most of the vegetables grown in New Zealand are consumed here.

Increasing consumption of fruit in New Zealand households, and particularly those with children, requires a greater variety of fruit to be available throughout the year.  In other words, the bigger the variety of produce available the bigger the consumer spend.

Fruit and vegetables that cannot not grow here will always be imported to meet demand, for example bananas and pineapples.


In the past 20 years, New Zealand’s horticulture industry has seen tremendous growth, with exports tripling from $1.7 billion to $5.5 billion, making up almost 10% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports. An increasingly wide variety of New Zealand grown fruit, vegetables and flowers are exported to 128 different countries.

In 2018 over 90% of New Zealand fresh produce export products (fresh, frozen and other processes) were in just 10 categories: kiwifruit, apples, potatoes, avocados, onions, vegetable seeds, peas, cherries and squash. Exports have also grown dramatically in the smaller crops of avocados, cherries and hops. The majority of the $141 million of potato exports is now processed potato products.

Emerging Trends

The trend for protected cultivation has seen a significant increase in the construction of covered structures for berry and vegetable production. This is reflected in the increase in the overall berry fruit category especially strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Substantial new apricot and cherry plantings, using a new orchard planting system programme have shown significantly higher yields. Much of this new production will be destined for export.

As ever the fresh produce industry continues to evolve and respond to changing consumer tastes, introducing new cultivars such as red kiwifruit and the kiwi berry.

Fresh Facts can be found at

Need help or want to know more? Contact Anne-Marie Arts by phone on 09-414-4536, or by email at


Summerfruit Conference

This month Agrichain’s Massimo Ciccioni and Melissa Zainey attended the Summerfruit NZ Conference in Queenstown. We appreciated the opportunity to sit down with our industry partners and discuss the up and coming summerfruit season.

Last season brought a big change in our export quality assessment reporting process with the introduction of a Dashboard Report. This Dashboard allowed clients to track their quality across the season and identify areas of concern.

Meeting with clients we were able to establish that this tool is a standout and has a very positive future. The Dashboard has now been tested for a whole season, and we are able to improve on the data provided following feedback from clients. This will ensure that this tool is providing the information that is most important to them.  For more information talk to Max

This year’s conference focused on sustainability in the face of climate change, our social licence to operate and waste minimisation. Multiple speakers spoke to the importance of being on the front foot in emerging technologies to reduce our environmental footprint. These talks were directed at entire supply chain.

Another big topic of conversation was the future of the Sustainable Summerfruit Program with the potential establishment of a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) with MPI. This is a seven-year program to grow the summerfruit industry with financial input from government, industry funding and funding from other interested parties. It will be exciting to observe where these initiatives will lead the summerfruit industry in the future.

Overall, it was a great week filled with plans for the future and optimism for this year’s season. If you need help with your Phytosanitary requirements or Quality Assurance for this year, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 247 424.

Need help or want to know more? Contact Max Ciccioni by phone on 09-414-4536, or by email at


Methyl Bromide Phase-Down

Methyl Bromide (MB) is a highly toxic colourless and odourless gas, which is used as a fumigant. MB use has been regulated internationally after the signing of the London Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 1990, which mandated countries reduce MB use to zero, except for phytosanitary requirements where acceptable fumigation replacements do not exist.

From October 2020, New Zealand legislation requires that all MB fumigation have a mandatory recapture system for fumigant gases that remain after treatment is completed (“off-gases”). This limit will require no more than 5 parts per million (ppm) of off-gassed MB released outside the fumigation zone. Produce immediately after treatment typically has a MB level of 400-800ppm, dependent on the crop. This is unlikely to be commercially viable or acceptable for produce importers and exporters due to the increased complexities in fumigation.

The New Zealand Government is currently working with industry via the Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction Inc. (STIMBR), on finding alternatives to MB, as well as viable ways to manage and reduce MB emissions. STIMBR in March 2019 requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consider an alteration of the 2020 requirements, to change the limit to commercially viable 80% recapture levels. This is being considered, and the reassessment is expected to be opened for public comments in July 2019. The EPA has indicated that submissions from the produce industry on the potential impacts to imports and exports would be welcomed.

This is an important issue for the Fresh produce industry, and United Fresh is working with the Plant Market Access Council especially in the areas of potential impact upon the consumer.

Need help or want to know more? Contact Anne-Marie Arts by phone on 09-414-4536, or by email at


Fresh Hub newsletter (PDF) archives:

May 2019

Mid April 2019

Early April 2019

Late March 2019

Early March 2019

February 2019

June 2018

March 2018


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