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New Zealand pipfruit volume showing gains in 2013

This season, New Zealand's pipfruit producers will infuse global markets with increased tonnage for apples and pears.

"We anticipate our export volume to be just under 17 million cartons or just over 305,000 tons," Alan Pollard, chief executive officer of Pipfruit New Zealand Inc., told The Produce News. "This would represent an increase of 6 percent over 2012. Production acreage is approximately 1 percent more than in 2012."

The organization is comprised of growers, packers and marketers of apples and pears, and it identifies, undertakes and funds research and development on behalf of the industry; speaks on behalf of the industry; and facilitates workshops, conferences and dissemination of industry information.

Mr. Pollard provided a global snapshot of pipfruit exports for the 2012 crop year.

"In the 2012 season, almost 12 percent of apples and 31 percent of pears were exported to the United States," he said. "This placed the U.S. third behind the European Union and United Kingdom for apples and first for pears."

He added that collectively, Asia is now New Zealand's largest export destination for pipfruit.

Mr. Pollard said that the total area devoted to apple production is approximately 21,500 acres. Among apple varieties produced, Royal Gala accounts for 27 percent of production area followed by Braeburn at 17 percent. He said that Fuji and Jazz each account for 10 percent.

New Zealand's pipfruit growers also produce Pacific Rose, Pacific Queen, Cripps Pink and Pacific Beauty apple varieties.

Looking at pear production, Mr. Pollard said, "We expect to export about 245,000 cartons of pears. This is a 14 percent increase on 2012."

Pear varieties produced and marketed are Taylor's Gold, Packhams Triumph, Beurre Bosc and Doyenne du Comice. A number of varieties of Nashi -- known as Chinese pears -- are also grown and exported.

Asked what pipfruit growers anticipate in terms of product quality, Mr. Pollard replied, "Given a good summer, we are generally seeing high-quality fruit this year. It has generally been a very good growing season this year."

In a statement issued in February, Mr. Pollard said the largest percent of this year's export volume would come from Hawke's Bay, which is expected to supply 61 percent of the total pipfruit crop. Nelson was expected to export 31 percent, and Central Otago will account for 4 percent during 2013. The remaining regions will account for the balance of volume.