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Filling the gap in New Zealand’s lime production is an export project that sees organic, Tahitian Limes from Vanuatu hit the New Zealand market for the first time when local produce is scarce. 

Prices for limes tend to skyrocket during New Zealand growers’ off-season between August and February, last year soaring to $88 per kilogram at a time when produce levels in Vanuatu are high and growers struggle to make the most of their crops. 

John Stokes from The Produce Company who facilitated the export deal, says he hopes the initiative will help reduce lime prices in New Zealand’s off-season and that this will be the first of many shipments to help out our Pacific neighbours who have limited exports. 

“Vanuatu has always supplied many seasonal workers under the RSE scheme to help out Kiwi orchardists so it’s nice to return the favour and help support Vanuatu’s agriculture industry as well. We hope the pathway we’ve created will allow for some of these workers to develop more horticultural produce from Vanuatu. It’s a trade route that can benefit both countries. ” 

Extra produce to meet local demand is usually imported from the US and Australia but Vanuatu’s Tahitian Limes are a preferred alternative. They travel less air miles to get here and are organic by nature due to the lack of funds growers have for spray fertilisers. 

The project to get lime exports up and running from Vanuatu to New Zealand was started in 2018, an initiative in conjunction with the Vanuatu Government and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, facilitated by Dynamic Supplies Vanuatu and New Zealand food distributor The Produce Company. 

It was trialled for a season in 2020 before compliance issues brought the project to a halt. Now, a year later, the first lime shipment from Vanuatu of the season has touched down in Auckland with the Ministry for Primary Industries continually working with Biosecurity Vanuatu to strengthen the Pacific nation’s export procedures. 

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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