New Zealand needs a thriving plant production sector that is able to meet the demand for plants while creating high skilled, meaningful jobs in the regions. NZ Plant Producers surveyed over 350 plant producers in 2019, asking them about their native plant production and plans for the future. This was the first time anyone had taken a detailed look at the industry. The survey shows the industry has enough capacity to increase native tree production, but long lead times mean achieving this growth will require planning and co-operation.
This survey was commissioned by Te Uru Rākau through its Partnership Fund. The research includes all native plant nurseries (commercial, non-profit, government, councils, Iwi). It excludes nurseries that do not produce any native plants.
A preliminary Insights report was produced in December 2019 noted that the native nursery industry is undergoing radical change. Traditionally nurseries operated as vertically integrated businesses, but the survey shows a major shift in technology is driving specialisation. Increasingly, a small number of specialist businesses are producing ‘growing-on lines’, small starter seedlings sold to other nurseries to grow to a size suitable for planting.
This supply-chain approach is improving utilisation of existing capacity and will be a key factor in enabling the industry to achieve the scale needed to meet future demand. The data of business size show a consolidated sector, with 66% being small operations (less than 2ha). Large producers (10ha or more) make up 5.3% of the businesses and produce more than 50% of the plants.
Nurseries are distributed throughout the country, from Northland to Stewart Island, with 66% in the North Island. Our industry provides skilled jobs and career opportunities spread across all regions. Regional councils lead the way in training and qualifications with more than 66% of staff qualified at level 5 or higher.
The demand for native plants is increasing year on year and plant producers are responding by increasing their capacity and productivity. The survey found that the native nursery sector will need to double the current production of native seedlings in order to meet planting targets over the next decade.
While the industry is well positioned to achieve these targets, it will require planning and co-operation across the whole sector and the wider community. Our sector will have to use all available capacity, open new production areas and convert other plant production into growing native plants. This presents a massive opportunity, but also challenges.
You can read the full report Growing New Zealand here.