A new study has found the New Zealand agri-food sector contributes around one fifth of the country's GDP.
The study by the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University aimed to measure the sector's economic impact and to analyse how the sector could continue to grow to support the well-being of New Zealanders.
One of the authors, Professor Caroline Saunders said the study had exploded a myth about agriculture's contribution to the economy.
"The study found that in 2011/12, the growing and harvesting of products contributed 6 percent of GDP, or $12 billion, to the economy.
Processing those products doubled the sector's value to $25 billion or 12 percent of GDP.
"These primary and processing activities themselves then draw on additional goods and services across the whole economy.
If you take these indirect effects into account, the total size of the agri-food sector was $40 billion in 2011/12.
That's nearly $1 for every $5 spent in the economy that year.
"The findings underscore how critical the industry is to our economic health, and the future opportunities for New Zealand as a high profile country-of-origin for quality food and beverages.
We need to continue to move away from New Zealand being known as a low-cost provider of agri-food commodities, to being known as a high value provider of agri-food products," she said.