Primary production

Agriculture, forestry and fishing underpins the New Zealand economy. The country’s reliable rainfall, good sunshine hours, quality soils and abundant natural resources create a strong base for agricultural production. This makes it possible to generate high quality and sustainable protein for overseas customers.

Primary Production 2

New Zealand's expertise in agribusiness provides solutions and problem-solving capability for complex environments around the world. Its highly competitive and efficient primary production systems are exported to every corner of the globe.

The country’s reputation for farming expertise and quality food-production systems places it in a strong position to meet the world's increasing food demands. A number of planned irrigation projects will create new irrigable land, increasing New Zealand’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

New Zealand offers investment opportunities throughout the forestry supply chain from plantation to wood processing. The low levels of local processing, alongside increasing harvests, represent a significant opportunity for national and international wood processors.

New Zealand is also well positioned to capitalise on the fast-growing aquaculture sector by leveraging its climate and resource advantages. The sector is supported by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

New Zealand companies are responsible for many world-first innovations. These include milk meters, livestock identification tags, and electric fencing systems. The country is one of the most efficient agricultural economies with a reputation for producing internationally significant research, agricultural practices and products.

World leaders in pastoral farming inputs

New Zealand has a strong and dedicated agricultural research community. Its researchers are well connected internationally and collaborate widely. They have also demonstrated an ability to commercialise scientific research and learning into market applications.

Seasonal, pasture-based production system

By adopting a seasonal, pasture-based system, New Zealand farmers enjoy higher efficiency in nutrients, labour and energy than farmers using confinement systems. Not subject to high grain or supplementary feed costs, they experience greater flexibility in managing production costs.

Strong food safety standards

New Zealand’s stringent food standards have led to a high-performing primary sector. The country has implemented robust biosecurity measures, and has high levels of food traceability. The World Organization for Animal Health has recognised New Zealand as free of animal diseases.

Access to free trade agreements

New Zealand has preferential access to a number of markets – particularly with its primary products. These include an EU quota and an FTA with China, which enable global producers to access and explore these key markets. The ongoing removal of trade barriers and negotiation of new free trade agreements provide further opportunities.

Counter-seasonal to major Northern Hemisphere markets

Having its major markets for primary products in the Northern Hemisphere, enables New Zealand to complement their domestic production.

Forestry and logging

New Zealand has a vibrant forestry and wood-processing sector that provides significant investment opportunities in value-added wood products. Its production plantations are among the world's largest and most intensively managed. Pine forests in New Zealand are genetically selected to ensure excellent quality in terms of growth, form and wood properties. The climate and topography are well suited to the growth of planted production forests and make it possible to harvest all year round.

Forestry and logging is the basis of an important export industry. Almost 70 percent of wood from the planted production forests is exported in a variety of forms, including logs, wood chips, sawn timber, panel products, pulp and paper, and further manufactured wooden products, including furniture.

Radiata pine, which makes up 90 percent of the plantation estate, has had considerable research investment and has demonstrated its versatility for a wide range of uses. These forests cover an area of 1.8 million hectares and produce over 99 percent of the country's wood. Wood availability is forecast to increase rapidly to 35 million cubic metres per annum between 2016 and 2025. This makes New Zealand an attractive investment opportunity for producers of high-value wood products.


New Zealand's isolated position in the South Pacific Ocean makes it one of the world's finest locations for marine farming. Its pathogen-free aquatic environment and absence of inorganic toxins means New Zealand is one of the few countries where shellfish do not require purification in clean seawater prior to processing.

New Zealand has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 4.1 million square kilometres, supporting a wide variety of inshore fish, some large deep-water fin fish, squid and tuna. Its clean coastal waters are also well suited to aquaculture. The main species farmed are Pacific oyster, green-lipped mussels and Quinnat salmon.

Fishing is a major New Zealand industry and an important merchandise export earner. Seventy percent of New Zealand’s seafood exports are categorised as added-value goods, a demonstration of how innovation can transform primary industry sectors. New Zealand controls the world's fourth largest coastal fishing zone and is one of only two countries to achieve a top ranking in a review of international fisheries management systems published in the journal Science in 2009.

Regions with strength in Primary Production

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