10 Sep 2011

Apple marketing proposal causes division

6:55 pm on 10 September 2011

Apple growers and exporters are divided over whether the Horticulture Export Authority Act should be amended to cover apple exports to Australia.

Pipfruit New Zealand balloted all sections of the industry as to how they wanted exports to Australia managed.

Chairman Ian Palmer says 73% of growers supported a co-ordinated approach through the export authority, while only 37% of exporters voted in favour of the process.

He says it's extremely disappointing that the export sector is not supporting its growers because the growers have all the investment and therefore the risk in the business.

Mr Palmer says some Hawke's Bay growers have suggested a commercial model which has merit and will now need to be looked at.

He says the divided vote means it's very unlikely that Agriculture Minister David Carter would recommend to Parliament, that the Horticulture Export Authority Act should be amended.

New Zealand's largest apple exporter, Turners & Growers, which markets under the ENZA brand, initially planned to vote in favour of apple exports to Australia coming under the Horticulture Export Authority Act.

But managing director Jeff Wesley says there was a change of thinking with most exporters believing that the Australians are making it extremely difficult to get apples in to Australia.

He says the general purpose of a Horticulture Export Act is to manage quality or grade standards, but the Australians have made the grade standard nearly impossible to comply with, so the Act won't make any difference to access there.

He says he's heard that the Australians are basically doing 100% inspection on every apple.

Mr Wesley says the Australians are making the compliance standards so impossible that no one can make any money out of it.

He predicts that next year only about half a dozen exporters will be interested in shipping apples to Australia, because the inspection system is so complicated.