NZ records lowest ever Braeburn apple crop
Pipfruit New Zealand has expects the country to export 65,000 metric tons (MT) of Braeburn apples to North American and European markets this year.
The forecast represents a 2.6% fall from last season's exports to 3.7 million cartons, compared to earlier pre-harvest estimates of 4.5 million cartons.
Last month chairman Ian Palmer told www.freshfruitportal.com New Zealand could lose 500 hectares of the crop in two years.
In the latest forecast release, chief executive Peter Beaven reinforced Palmer's claims that growing different varieties with appeal in Asia would be a good course of action for the industry.
"Several years of poor returns for Braeburn will drive grower decisions to exit the variety in favour of change away from European supply," Beaven said.
"The Braeburn variety is in danger of becoming a casualty of this global economic shift to Asia.
"Growers have had enough and have given their exporters an ultimatum - either deliver sustainable returns from those markets or expect to see the variety disappear."
Beaven said the Braeburn sales window was about to begin in Europe, with growers questioning whether the variety would survive in any significant volume.
"We know NZ Braeburn is a very good apple and there is good demand for it but it will be up to our importers to show that they can deliver sustainable economic returns and that there is still a place for Braeburn in our orchard."
Related story: Drastic cuts expected for NZ Braeburn apples