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Visiting expert Dr Roland Fumasi said while there was great potential to increase exports into developing countries, New Zealand should also be targeting increased exports into developed markets such as the United States, Japan, Australia, the EU and Canada, which offered premium prices.
Dr Fumasi, who is Rabobank's California-based senior fruit and vegetable analyst, was in New Zealand recently to meet growers and speak at Horticulture New Zealand's conference.
In a statement, he said the sector would need to follow consumption trends closely to gain a greater share of the fruit and vegetable space in developed markets.
``In developed countries, we're not seeing increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, but we are seeing a change towards more expensive and exotic fruit and vegetables.
``In these markets, consumers not only want their fruit and vegetables to be convenient, to be healthy, to look good and to taste good all year round, they also want them to be safe, to be responsibly produced and they want to know where they came from.''
While those trends were mainly evident in developed markets, they were becoming more prominent in developing markets.
There were several good examples of New Zealand produce ``hitting the mark'' with American consumers.
Some new cultivars of apples had proved very popular and were a great example of the work being done in New Zealand to develop produce that met the requirements of a specific target market.
Kiwifruit was another area of ``real potential'' in the US. Consumption was ``pretty minimal'' across the US, but it was considered to be quite exotic and there had been some good recent progress in persuading more Americans to give them a try, he said.
The Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries last month, said kiwifruit exports were forecast to exceed $2.2billion by 2021, and increased plantings of gold varieties were expected over the next few years.
Demand was high for orchards on the market and investment was being made in new orchard development.
The total gold kiwifruit-producing area was now over 4800ha. A further 800ha of Gold3 licences were released in 2016 and 2017, and more licence releases were expected, the report said.
The area planted in apples and pears could reach 11,000ha by 2020, an increase of 10% from current levels, encouraged by strong Asian demand and access to capital and new varieties.
The anticipated lift in planted area would depend on gaining access to suitable land with a secure water supply.