Establishing a juniper (Juniperus communis) production industry in New Zealand

L.H.J. Kerckhoffs, T. Sneddon, D. James, E. Kawana-Brown, S. Sofkova-Bobcheva
New Zealand (NZ) spirits exports currently comprise only 2% of total beverage exports and NZ's share of global trade in spirits is only 0.1%. Achieving a point of difference, in having 100% NZ origin gin with distinct flavor profiles derived from locally grown Juniper berries, could create a unique selling point in NZ and accelerate export growth for this spirits category, which is one of the stand-out beverages for global import growth over the past five years. Many of the botanical inclusions in gin are available from NZ, but Juniper “berries” are currently not available in NZ in commercial quantities. Juniper (Juniper communis) is an evergreen conifer, related to cedar and cypress grown across Europe, Asia, USA and Canada at latitudes of around 70-28 degrees. Although not native to NZ, it does grow successfully, primarily as an ornamental. Results from feasibility analyses of growing Juniper as a cash crop on medium-to-low class soils in the Taranaki region of North Island, NZ (and potentially also beyond), as well as potential production and economic constraints of the proposed diversification will be presented and discussed. Juniper prefers well-drained, slightly acidic, gravelly or rocky soil, to 'chalky/hilly' zones, in eco-zones between forest and grassland, in skeletal soil zones and on poor sandy soils and established inland sand dunes. To achieve high yields with unique volatiles' characteristics of commercial Juniper cropping industries, propagation methods, growing and harvesting techniques need to be optimized and trialed under NZ conditions. With no present commercial Juniper production industry in NZ, this paper will describe the opportunity for cropping Juniper as a novel and sustainable local supply chain for berries for both NZ and other southern hemisphere gin manufacturers.
Kerckhoffs, L.H.J., Sneddon, T., James, D., Kawana-Brown, E. and Sofkova-Bobcheva, S. (2020). Establishing a juniper (Juniperus communis) production industry in New Zealand. Acta Hortic. 1287, 103-110
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1287.14
Juniper berries, gin industry, distilling, New Zealand, Taranaki

Acta Horticulturae