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January 2003, Volume 9, Number 1

New Zealand Agriculture

New Zealand has the highest percentage of workers employed in agriculture among rich nations, and labor-intensive agriculture is expanding. New Zealand obtains farm workers in part through recruiting agencies that bring foreigners to New Zealand on two-year work visas; many work on dairy farms.

New Zealand is the world's major exporter of dairy products, producing milk products worth NZ $27 billion and exporting about a fourth of that production in the year ending in June 2002 as milk powder, cheese, casein (the white protein from milk used to make cheese as well as plastics), and butter. New Zealand has 13,900 dairy farms that average 251 cows, for a total 3.5 million cows; most dairy farms are in the northern half of the North Island. Fonterra Co-operative Group is New Zealand's largest company--it accounts for 20 percent of New Zealand exports and seven percent of GDP and processes 95 percent of milk.

Meat exports (lamb and beef) are about NZ$4 billion a year- about 90 percent of New Zealand lamb, worth NZ$2.3 billion, is exported, and New Zealand accounts for half of the world's lamb exports About 85 percent of New Zealand beef, worth NZ$1.8 billion, is exported, accounting for 10 percent of the world's beef exports-- a third of New Zealand meat exports are to the US. New Zealand exports about $NZ250 million of venison a year, 80 percent to Germany

New Zealand exports wine worth NZ$245 million a year; jams worth NZ $184 million; albumins (water-soluble proteins found in egg whites and milk) worth NZ $164 million; and honey worth NZ $21 million-honey is a New Zealand export success story, based in part on antibiotic-free feeding.

New Zealand had 382 wineries and 13,600 hectares of vineyards in 2002, and half its wine exports went to the UK- wine exports are projected to triple by 2006. The leading areas of wine production are: Marlborough, 40 percent of total vineyard acreage; Hawke's Bay, which aims for the premium market with Gimblett Gravels, 28 percent; and Gisborne, 15 percent. About 70 percent of New Zealand wines are white, led by Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Hoki (a white fish) is New Zealand's largest commercial species and most important seafood export by volume and value, followed by mussels and rock lobster

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