Covid Impact: Demand for Kiwi goods high but challenges multiply for exporters

Supply of New Zealand goods in high demand offshore is being hampered by the difficulty of getting them to the right place.

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The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt shipping schedules and refrigerated containers are in short supply. Source: 1 NEWS

The pandemic has disrupted shipping schedules and refrigerated containers are in short supply, hitting exporters of perishable goods hard.

In a good year, close to 400,000 tonnes of New Zealand apples are shipped overseas. But a shortage of shipping containers is proving a challenge for those in the industry.

"In order for the whole supply chain to work we need the availability of shipping containers so growers can empty cool stores and growers can keep harvesting so at the moment the availability of those shipping containers is the biggest issue,” says orchardist, Grant Osmond.

The transport costs and the economic situation is taking its toll.

"It just errodes the return back to the grower as does the high New Zealand dollar which we experiencing at the moment as well,” says Susan Kilsby, ANZ Agriculture Economist.

The Government says it’s working across agencies to monitor the problem.

"We are mindful that this is an international challenge, we are working across the world with all government agencies to make sure we have all the information,” Trade Minister, Damien O’Connor says.

Getting goods where and when they are needed is being felt by all exporters and while the bigger players - meat and dairy, say they are coping well, the bigger challenge is to those who need their goods to reach market in a timely manner - such as crayfish or cherries.

“We are working through to make sure support from the Government is effective and gets them through what will be a challenging year but focussing on the next production year which is the one we have to make successful," O'Connor says.

Demand for Kiwi products remains high, albeit changed from pre-Covid-19 days.

“Demand has changed in terms of where the product is going, you will be aware particularly in the US and the UK a lot of those food service channels have been disrupted. That said, product is going quite strongly in retail and online platforms,” says Meat Industry Association Chief Executive, Sirma Karapeeva.