May 05 2021

May 2021 update

Grower energy workshops

We are hosting two workshops focusing on energy for greenhouse growers in May.  We have speakers presenting on a range of areas of interest to indoor growers including:

  • Energy efficiency measures for greenhouse growers
  • Low carbon greenhouse heating technologies
  • Sustainable heating from biomass and crop waste
  • EECA industry decarbonisation plan, case study learnings and support

The workshops are for a half day and will include lunch, starting at 9.30am and finishing by 1.30pm.

  • Christchurch - Wednesday 12th May at Airforce Museum, Brevet Lounge, 45 Harvard Ave, Wigram
  • Pukekohe - Tuesday 18th May at the Franklin Centre, Leslie Comrie & Douglas Wright Rooms, 10 Massey Avenue.

To attend you need to RSVP prior to Jacqui Stalknecht on or call 04 494 9978.   Please let us know any special dietary requirements.

Consultation on coil boiler ban

On 8th April the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) opened consultation on their proposal for phasing out fossil fuels on process heat.  This consultation is open until 20th May and we will be doing a submission.   This consultation opened on the same day that Minister Woods announced a ban on new low and medium temperature coal boilers to come into effect by 31 December 2021.

Their proposal includes:

  • Implementing the Government's commitment to ban new low and medium temperature coal boilers;
  • Phasing out coal in existing sites by 2037 for low and medium temperature process heat, through re-consenting;
  • Phasing out use of other fossil fuels such as diesel and natural gas by requiring a switch to less emissions intensive fuels such as electricity, unless no economically or technically viable alternatives exist; and
  • Requiring industrial sites above a threshold to have an emissions plan to encourage energy efficiency, best practice, and transition to low-emission fuels.

This MfE consultation opened up just after the Climate Change Commission consultation, which included similar proposals, on 28th March.  It’s reported that about 10,000 submissions were received on the Climate Change Commissions consultation, and they are due to report to Government with their finalised advice by 31 May 2021.   If you want a copy of Horticulture New Zealand’s submission, which we contributed to on behalf of greenhouse growers, please contact us.

On a brighter note, we are pleased to see that Tasman grower, JS Ewers, have been awarded $4.078m co-funding in the first round of Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund (GIDI fund).  This funding will be put towards installation of a new biomass-fuelled plant to replace an existing coal boiler, conversion to wood pellets on smaller sites and retrofitting thermal screens to enhance energy efficiency. 

Pierre Gargiulo from JS Ewers will share his learnings on being involved in this process to date at the Christchurch energy workshop.

AGM 5th August 2021 and conference

The TomatoesNZ Inc AGM will be held at the Horticulture Conference, at Mystery Creek 4.15pm on Thursday 5th August 2021. The conference runs over two days and this year the theme is “Resilience and Recovery”.  The opening sessions on Thursday 5th August will include a series of short thirty minute sessions for covered crop growers.   Topics will include greenhouse hygiene, updates on biocontrol research, energy, and sustainability.    

Following the morning sessions, the presentations will move into areas of relevance to all growers including updates from government, supermarket operations, climate change, labour, water management and regenerative agriculture.  There will also be two guest speakers on resilience, one of whom will run workshops specifically designed to provide tools to help with resilience.   

Once the full programme is confirmed we will provide further details.  Meantime please mark 5-6th August in your calendar.  The conference website is:

Board nominations

Current board members Callum Grant from Kakanui, and Albert Shih from Canterbury, retire by rotation this year and both have confirmed they will make themselves available for re-election. In addition, there is currently also one vacancy for an elected board member.

If you are a tomato grower interested in joining the board, please get in touch with us to find out more.

Greenhouse tomatoes residue compliance information

We have recently posted an updated NZ residue compliance information booklet to greenhouse tomato growers.   If you have not received this, or have received a copy but are not growing greenhouse tomatoes, please let us know.  An electronic copy is also available by contacting us.

Tomatoes sales stunt

Two supermarkets who chose to sell fresh tomatoes at 9c and 8c per kg for a day each caused quite a stir in March and resulted in some media attention.  Whilst this was an individual owner/operator supermarket decision it was quite unsettling and something we do not want to see repeated.    Selling tomatoes so far below the costs it takes to grow and market them provides little benefit for growers.  We can only hope that a few new customers were attracted by the special and have now introduced fresh healthy tomatoes to their daily diet. 

Meantime, we are working on a plan to develop a series of stories on tomato growers and showcase the work that goes into providing a tasty fresh tomato to the market.  We will share more on this in the future but if you would like to be involved please let us know.

Export figures 


At the time of writing this update, the export statistics for January and February 2021 showed a substantial drop compared with the same months last year, down 56% in January and 77% in February.   Unfortunately, the cost and availability of freight, and soft demand in some export markets this summer season has severely limited opportunities for exports. 

Meanwhile in New Zealand we saw the average retail price for standard loose tomatoes fall to $2.44/kg during the second week of February this year, about a dollar less than in February 2020.   

Global tomato congress presentations available online

Spanning energy, marketing, breeding, sustainability and more, these presentations are well worth a look.  If you registered for the online congress then you can access these presentations on the website  If you do not have access please contact us to help with getting the content you are interested in.