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European potato

According to a report by Toni Williams for Rural Life in New Zealand, an influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses.

Toni Williams reports that Hewson Farms, in Mid Canterbury, grows on average around 350ha of potatoes a year as part of its operation. It grows a large tonnage for McCain Foods, but it also grows onions, wheat, ryegrass, clover, hybrid vegetable seed, seed carrots, beetroot, hybrid rape kale and linseed. Director Ross Hewson said the influx of European fries into New Zealand, as shown in New Zealand trade figures, resulted in more than 40 containers of product flooding into the domestic market.

There was an even larger influx into Australia, he said. McCain Foods responded to the glut in product by limiting volume being produced to supply to the market this year. As a result, Mr Hewson said the company had reduced the number of permanent employees it has in response to tightening market conditions, increasing costs of labour, inputs and compliance.

Evidence given by industry members, such as Mr Hewson, in the Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) Pandemic Industry Recovery Plan application, completed in September, has prompted the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment

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