Spray-free target for New Zealand apples and pears to boost export growth


New Zealand’s apples and pears industry is aiming to become spray-free by 2050 through a new Government-backed programme focused on world-leading sustainable production practices, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

The Government is investing in a seven-year programme through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) that seeks to reduce chemical spray use on apples and pears. SFF Futures is contributing $7.44 million to the $14.77 million programme, led by New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc.

“Our New Zealand apples and pears are loved around the world and we’d like to keep it that way by further boosting their sustainability credentials in high-value export markets,” Damien O’Connor said.

This research programme will develop innovative solutions to reduce spray and agrichemical use through new technologies, data, and information solutions.”

Damien O’Connor said that phytosanitary (plant health) standards for detectable pests and food safety standards for agrichemical residues are important requirements for New Zealand’s export markets.

“Fruit that doesn’t meet those standards won’t be allowed into those markets. In addition, Europe and Asia, which are New Zealand’s largest markets for our apples and pears, have set new targets for the reduction of agrichemicals by 2030.

“As with our entire primary sector we need to stay ahead of the game to achieve our ambitious growth targets.”

By 2030, the research programme aims to have further reduced pesticide application by 50 percent by using targeted and smart technology. Achieving a spray-free status by 2050 would also result in a reduction of industry greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent.

“This programme will protect New Zealand’s existing high-value market share and future growth prospects,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Our horticulture export revenue is expected to reach a staggering $6.9 billion for the year to 30 June 2022.

“By further reducing pesticide use, this programme aims to safeguard export revenue to the tune of $1.1 billion between 2023 and 2030.

“The programme is a great fit with the Government and sector’s Fit for a Better World roadmap for the food and fibre sector, which aims to boost sustainability, productivity and jobs over 10 years.

“We’re focussed on our economic recovery from COVID-19 and the roadmap will enable us to retain our position as a global leader for food security and quality, while reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

“That will be a great win for both New Zealand and the environment,” Damien O’Connor said.