MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR FRESH VEGETABLE CROPS IN NEW ZEALAND
With its geographic isolation New Zealand has relied to a very high degree on domestic production of vegetables, with only small volumes imported from Pacific Islands or Australia. Until about twenty years ago domestic production had been centred on supplying adjacent main population centres, with only some seasonal vegetables having national distribution.
The size of the New Zealand vegetable industry is shown in Table 1.
In the last one to two decades four important factors can be identified which have led to the present situation.
- Internal distribution of fresh vegetables has become more fluid with improved transport facilities. Main population centres are less dependent on local production volumes and distribution channels, with access to produce from most other areas of the country.
- The population of New Zealand has only increased very slowly in the last two decades. Thus the normal expansion of production which occurs with technology advances and as growers expand to maintain viability has increased against only slightly increased domestic demand.
- Exports of fresh vegetables in significant volumes is with only a few crops (onions, buttercup squash, asparagus and potatoes). This has developed mostly in the last decade and has absorbed some of the increased vegetable production. But at present there is a belief that a ceiling has been reached with exports and production increases are now going to be seen as surpluses in the domestic markets.
- Distribution systems are changing very rapidly with an increased percentage of volumes not going through the traditional auction markets in main city centres. Until about five years ago a few main vegetables (potatoes, onions and carrots) were sold directly to retail outlets primarily supermarkets, this represented up to half the total volumes for these vegetables.