May 20 2018

Monthly Update May 2018

Research update in Pukekohe

Tomato growers and consultants in upper North Island were invited to a tomato industry research update last month, held in Pukekohe on the 15th May.

Topics covered included an update from Sally Anderson, manager of the Vegetable Research & Innovation (VR&I) Board, on cross-vegetable research that TomatoesNZ is co-funding; TomatoesNZ recent and ongoing pest control research;  a talk by grower and board member Anthony Tringham on some alternative pest control ideas; and the results of the recent TomatoesNZ  energy and waste survey. That was followed by a discussion on fresh tomato commodity levy proposal and the upcoming referendum.


We need your vote

TomatoesNZ needs your support in the July 2018 referendum so that we can demonstrate a strong grower mandate for continuing our work for the fresh tomato industry.

TomatoesNZ supports the wider industry work of Horticulture New Zealand, which is complementary but does not replace the tomato specific work that we undertake on your behalf.

For example, funding for research projects into tomato pest control and environmental management; export market access; biosecurity; and advocacy with government on behalf of the fresh tomato industry are all funded by the Fresh Tomato levy. That work cannot occur without grower support for the levy.

The TomatoesNZ board are proposing to lift the maximum levy rate from 0.35%, to 0.50%. However growers will not immediately pay more. The initial levy rate will stay at the current 0.35%. Any shift from 0.35% must be approved by levy payers at an AGM. 

Prior to 2013, the fresh tomato levy rate was higher – 0.5625%. It was lowered at the last referendum because the levy was not all being spent and there was retained levy of nearly $1m. Since then, TomatoesNZ has run a deliberate strategy or reducing that retained levy, which is now down at around $550,000, or about 12 months of operating expenditure. 

However, to continue doing the work we do in the medium term, we cannot continue to run deficits every year, which is why the scope is need to raise the levy rate back closer to its previous level in the future.

In the last referendum held in 2012, TomatoesNZ achieved a voter return turnout of 53%, and of those 92% by number and 99.6% by value supported the levy proposal. It would be great if we could surpass that voter turnout this year, and match the support level! 

If the proposal is not approved by >50% of voters (by number and value), then we will not be able to apply for a new levy order to replace the current order expiring in May 2019. We would have to go back to the “drawing board” and decide our next move. Please get in touch before the vote if you have any questions or concerns about the proposal.

All fresh tomato levy payers will receive a voting pack in early July. If you do not receive yours, please phone 0508 467 869.  Voting closes at noon on Monday 13th August. For more information go to the Commodity Levy page.

Experience conference in Christchurch

 Take the opportunity to meet other growers and hear new ideas that could be applied to your business at The Horticulture Conference “Our Food Story”, Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25th July 2018at the Airforce Museum, Wigram, Christchurch.

 Programme highlights:

 Monday 23rd July

  Field trips are scheduled from 11:00am – 4:00pm, to sites of horticultural interest around wider Christchurch.

 From 1:00pm - 3:00pm, Vegetables New Zealand and Process Vegetables New Zealand have a session on soil and nutrient management which all  growers are welcome to attend.      

 The TomatoesNZ AGM will be at 5:00pm, followed by the conference welcome reception at 6:00pm.

The Vegetable Industry Dinner will be held from 7:30pm with, speaker Chef Monique Fiso, of Hiakai, a leading innovator on the New Zealand food scene.

Tuesday 24th  

Tuesday opens at 8:45 with a pōwhiri and keynote address, followed by sessions with New Zealand growers telling their stories, about innovative marketing, positioning and sustainability.

This is followed by a sessions on overcoming constraints on growing,the post-pesticide age, and further tools for production, leading in to the HortNZ AGM at 4:00pm

The Gala Dinner is on Tuesday night, starting with a cocktail function at 6pm and dinner at 7pm.


Wednesday 25th July

Wednesday morning starts with a Women in Horticulture Breakfast, and then the sessions move along the production chain to distribution, retail, and rounding off the conference with the consumer story, with Zespri, NZTE and Rabobank speakers, finishing with Lunch at 1:00pm.

To register go to

TomatoesNZ has funding available to assist members to attend. See the conference page for more information.   We look forward to seeing you there!