ENTERING RECOVERY PHASE

New Zealand lifts all COVID-19 restrictions across the country except for Auckland.

UPDATES

  • On Sep 21, New Zealand lifted all COVID-19 restrictions across the country (Alert Level 1), except for Auckland city, as the number of new infections drop.
  • Auckland remains on Alert Level 2, but moves out of lockdown as it battles to control the outbreak of COVID-19 that re-emerged in the city in August.
  • 3 new community transmissions and – for the first time – 6 historical cases (from the February Waikato cluster) were reported in New Zealand on Sep 23, none of which are connected to the recent Auckland community cluster.
  • PM Jacinda Ardern, who faces a general election on Oct 17, commented that an analysis by the Ministry of Health indicated that there was only a 50-50 chance of having eliminated COVID-19 by end of September.
  • New Zealand plunged into recession for the first time in a decade on Sep 17, as the economy shrinks by a record 12.2% contraction in June quarter. PM Ardern defended her decision to impose tough measures and is confident of an economic rebound in July – September, with restrictions being eased significantly.
  • National carrier Air New Zealand reported its first full-year loss in 18 years as the COVID-19 pandemic cripples international travel.

IMPACT ON FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN

  • Despite the challenging year, New Zealand’s primary sector exports and jobs have risen, with the horticultural sector supporting the country’s economic recovery. Across the whole year to August, all exports have increased by 2.8%, with fruit exports up by 8.4% and vegetable exports up by 6.3%.
  • Fruit growers are reliant on overseas workers, who make up the bulk of fruit pickers. With the nation’s borders still closed off, there are growing concerns on the lack of staff when produce is ready for harvesting. Although PM Arden believes that locals will “pick up the slack” due to high unemployment rates, local growers have been receiving poor responses for harvest staff. This could lead to soaring prices for annual crops.
  • Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor shared that changes have been made to a range of immigration policies to ensure that the sector will have sufficient manpower to support harvesting and post-harvest operations.
  • Live and chilled seafood exports have been severely affected – either due to various country restrictions put in place, or due to reduced air freight capacity or increased air freight costs. Seafood trade is slowly rebounding, although still not at pre-COVID-19 levels.