New report forecasts record primary industry exports and seafood export revenue growth

A major player in New Zealand’s seafood industry says after two years of Covid-19 disruptions, demand for exports is rebounding, but there are still challenges for the primary industries.

Photo: Supplied / Sanford

The Ministry of Primary Industry’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries Report (SOPI) forecasts seafood export revenue will rise 9 percent to $1.9 billion in the year to the end of June 2022, driven by food services reopening and increasing demand.

The report forecasts overall primary industry exports will reach a record $52.2b for the current financial year.

Seafood export revenue is expected to remain at $1.9b for the year ending 30 June 2023, according to the SOPI report.

Sanford exports a range of seafood products to countries all around the world.

Its chief customer officer Andre Gardiulo said the lift in revenue was welcome news after two very tough years.

“What I am seeing, and what the industry is seeing, is that the recovery with regards to demand for seafood internationally is certainly strong and continuing to grow,” he said.

“I was personally in Europe and America over the past couple of months, and I saw it there firsthand, that food services reopened with a vengeance.

“People are out and about, really engaging in out of home dining, and that’s really encouraging for us.

“But we’ve also seen, as a byproduct of the Covid challenges, in-home consumption, and the retail environment and overseas markets have certainly embraced the New Zealand seafood sector and looking to grow that as well.

“It’s encouraging, and something that we’re continuing to take advantage of.”

However, the industry was still facing challenges as rising costs outpaced revenue growth, Gardiulo said.

“You can’t pinpoint it to one thing in particular, it is across the board, but when you look at the increased fuel costs, increase compliance costs, regulatory costs, people costs, it is certainly certainly across the board and affecting everyone.

“It’s been well-publicized in the past 12 months that the supply chain costs and uncertainty are continuing to be to be a challenge and will do for the short term future.”

Tackling those challenges required a collaborative approach within the seafood industry, with regulators and with primary industry sectors, he said.

“We are acutely aware that we can’t do this alone.

“We need to be eyes wide open, we need to have a level of of constructive conversation, and we need to think very differently about how we navigate the years to come.”

China’s Shanghai Port, a key access route into the market for exporters, is now back up and running after a series of lockdowns saw exporters unable to get their products into the country.

Gardiulo said about 14 percent of Sanford’s total volume was shipped to the Chinese market, and while the lockdowns led to some delays, the company was able to work with its customers and send products to other ports in China.

“One thing that we’ve been taught over the past two years is that we need to continue to have a high level of flexibility and agility when it comes to market access.

“And countries and ports in particular, will need to navigate the challenges around Covid-19 and the long-term effects it continues to have on some of those supply chains.

“We, for deliberate reasons, a number of years ago diversified our market and customer base quite extensively. Not necessarily for any reason, but more from a vulnerability of geographical location.

“So we do ship around the globe, but the key market for us continues to be at home here in New Zealand.”

About 40 percent of Sanford’s products were consumed and sold in New Zealand, with the remainder of its products exported to Australia, America, China and Europe, Gardiulo said.

“We do have the benefit of the diversification of our product mix and country mix, but that is something we continue to work on.”

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