An independent report into the agrifood sector says more marketing, research and new food products are needed to triple the value of exports.
The report by the Riddet Institute, a research partnership of industry and academic organisations, calls for a joint industry/government approach to lift earnings from exports from $20 billion in 2009 to $58 billion by 2025.
Its author, Kevin Marshall, says an estimated $1.5 billion a year needs to be invested in food exports to prevent the country from lagging economically.
Dr Marshall says the money would be used for to find out what motivates middle-class people in emerging countries to buy New Zealand food products, as well as building on the country's clean green reputation.
The report says New Zealand has unrealised potential in agrifood and all parts of the sector need to work together to maximise that.