New Zealand's food and fibre sector has shattered expectations, contributing a staggering $57.4 billion in export revenue for the year ending June 30, 2023.
This achievement, revealed through year-end data, surpasses the initial forecast by $1.2 billion, injecting a welcome boost into the nation's economy, as announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor on Wednesday.
Minister O'Connor highlighted the sector's remarkable growth of over $4.3 billion, an 8% increase from the previous year, demonstrating the sector's resilience and adaptability.
"Food and fibre export revenue has hit $57.4 billion, setting a new record and surpassing previous forecasts of $56.2 billion to the year ending June 2023."
Underscoring the significance of trade and export growth in the government's economic revival strategy, Minister O'Connor praised recent accomplishments such as securing new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the UK, EU, and an upgraded China FTA.
These initiatives have propelled export opportunities and heightened value generation, laying the foundation for a more robust economy.
Minister O'Connor further emphasised the government's commitment to supporting producers and expanding export avenues.
"Our job now is to continue supporting our producers by opening doors for exporters wherever we can and build on the seven signed or upgraded free trade agreements secured since we've been in office," he stated.
This united effort is aimed at maintaining New Zealand's global competitive edge in the face of challenging international conditions.
Acknowledging the sector's pivotal role, Minister O'Connor expressed gratitude for the remarkable results.
"This Government has always backed our farmers, growers, fishers, and foresters to achieve success - investing significantly to support the sector to lift its sustainability credentials to maintain our competitive edge."
The Agriculture Minister also lauded the resilience of the sector, especially considering adversities like Cyclone Gabrielle and challenging weather patterns. He commended the sector's steadfastness during such times, acknowledging their contributions to these remarkable outcomes.
The sector's strength is evident across various industries. Dairy exports achieved an extraordinary milestone with revenues reaching a record $26 billion, marking an 18% surge from the previous year. Likewise, horticulture, seafood, and arable sectors displayed robust growth rates of 4%, 9%, and 8% respectively. Processed food and other exports also thrived, displaying an impressive 8% growth of $268 million from the previous year.
Minister O'Connor noted that this growth is a result of collective endeavours by both the government and the sector, establishing a strong foundation for future growth, sustainability, and prosperity.
Since 2017, food and fibre exports have surged by a remarkable $19.2 billion, signifying a staggering 50% increase.
Minister O'Connor acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead, assuring the sector of the government's support going forward.
"I want to thank the sector… a testament to their hard work, innovative thinking, and resilience."