6.1.g Value of exports and imports of non-wood forest products

Rationale

This indicator provides information about the value of a country’s exports and imports of non- wood products and their contribution to the domestic economy. International trade in non-wood products may be a significant factor in the management, commercial use and economic value of forests.

Current state

In the 2013 calendar year, New Zealand’s two-way merchandise trade (imports and exports) amounted to NZ$96.4 billion. Non-wood forest products made up nearly 0.25 percent of this total.

Honey (and bee product) exports and imports

The value of natural honey exports (in nominal terms) has increased from $27 million to $170.5 million between 2003 and 2013, while imports over the same period have been less than $1.2 million per annum (with a low of $24 000). The export figures do not differentiate between pasture- and forest-based honeys, and in some cases they draw on both nectar sources.

In addition to natural honey exports, apiarists supply overseas customers with live bees, beeswax and pollen. The export value of live bees and beeswax in the 2013 calendar year was $6.4 million. Imports of beeswax stood at just $80 000 and there were no imports of bees.

These figures do not include situations where honey and honey extracts are used in the production of value-added products, such as cooking ingredients, pharmaceuticals or medical applications. One of New Zealand’s monofloral honeys (based on mānuka) is gaining an international reputation as an antibacterial substance. Several commercial products have been developed and are now being exported.

Possum fibre

The past 15 years have seen growing commercial interest in the fibre of the Australian brushtailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) for yarn manufacturing and the production of fashion garments. 2010 figures estimate the possum fur-merino sector to have a turnover of around $100 million annually.

The growth in the sector has been supported by both domestic and overseas demand. Overseas visitors to New Zealand have been major purchasers of possum–merino products, such as jerseys and scarves. These purchases are recorded as domestic sales and are not included in the export figures. Blended yarns and textiles are being exported to a range of overseas customers and countries, with particular interest from China. Because these products are in a semi-processed or processed state, the trade database records the finished product rather than the raw material. This prevents an accurate estimate of possum-fibre exports.

Possum skins and pet food

Export activity of trade in possum skins dropped during the global economic crisis with returns falling to only a few hundred thousand dollars in recent years. Imports of possum skins are negligible.

Previous reports have commented on the potential for developing export pet-food lines based on possum meat. Interest in this opportunity continues, and niche product lines have been developed. Separate figures are not available for the export of possum-derived pet food.

Sphagnum moss exports

The sphagnum moss industry has a strong focus on the export market, with a significant share of production going to customers in Japan and Southeast Asia (see indicators 2.e and 6.1.b). The major customers for sphagnum moss (Sphagnum cristatum) are orchid growers, as the moss can hold twenty times its own weight in water. Sphagnum moss also has medicinal uses, as it is a naturally sterile substance.

Export returns have been between $3.9 million and $4.5 million since 2011.

Foliage and live plant exports

New Zealand has a developing trade in the export of foliage, cut flowers and plants. Native plants have a small role in these exports. New Zealand has several species of Pittosporum that are valued for their foliage by flower arrangers. Between $1.6 million and $1.8 million per annum of Pittosporum foliage was exported over the past four years.

Other traded products

There is increasing interest in the use of native plant extracts in skin-care and medicinal products. Research is ongoing in this area, and several companies are working to develop overseas markets for these new product lines. Separate trade data is not available on these exports.

New Zealand has a small trade in natural gums and resins, a proportion of which are derived from forest and bush lands.

Trends

The value of natural honey exports (in nominal terms) has increased from $27 million to $170.5 million between 2003 and 2013 (December year figures), while imports over the same period have been less than $1.2 million per annum (with a low of $24 000).

The increase in honey exports has been driven by strong international demand (particularly for high- quality honeys), the growing reputation of mānuka honey and increasing demand from China. Chinese demand has grown, particularly since the introduction of the New Zealand–China Free Trade Agreement.

The volume of honey exported in retail packs has increased significantly since 2007, while bulk honey exports have been declining over the past five years.

The past 15 years have seen growing commercial interest in the fibre of the Australian brushtailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) for yarn manufacturing and the production of fashion garments. The 2008 country report noted that the blending of possum fur and merino had become an established part of the New Zealand yarn industry and that the total value of the sector was estimated to be worth in the order of $50 to $70 million per annum. More recent figures estimate the sector to have a turnover of around $100 million annually.

The trade in possum skins saw progressive growth in the early to mid-2000s, with export activity increasing from $0.5 million dollars in the 2002 calendar year to $2.2 million in 2007 and $2.3 million in 2008. Export activity dropped during the global economic crisis with returns falling to only a few hundred thousand dollars in recent years.

Export returns were between $13 million and $18 million during the 1990s and the early 2000s. Returns have declined over the past decade and have been between $3.9 million and $4.5 million since 2011. Part of this decline relates to the high value of the New Zealand dollar and competition from other Pacific Rim producers.

Trend Status

Data Quality L / M

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