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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

What is the Horticulture Export Authority?

The Honey Industry Strategy released in February calls for the implementation of a model similar to that of the Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) to capture a mānuka honey export levy. We get an overview of what the HEA is and who is included.

One could dine rather well on the array of horticultural products which fall into the existing HEA. Avocados, summerfruits (apricots, nectarines, cherries, peaches and plums), blackcurrants, boysenberries, buttercup squash, kiwifruit destined for Australia, walnuts and even truffles are among the 10 product groups included.

The Honey Strategy puts mānuka honey exports, the cash cow of New Zealand apiculture, as suited to the HEA-type model. Whether that means honey joins that long list of products, or looks to replicate the structure, remains to be seen.

The HEA was established as a statutory authority under the New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority Act 1987. It operates as a body corporate reporting to the Ministry for Primary Industries and each of the industry product groups have undergone a vote to join the HEA.

Its framework is based on two key tools, an Export Marketing Strategy (EMS) and on licensing of exporters. Complying with each is required to export the products operating under the HEA structure.

Each product group’s EMS sets out the rules for exporting and includes things like export grade standards, and labelling and packaging requirements. Licensing includes levies on exporters based on value of product sent offshore.

Its work is funded entirely by the various industry group members and by two streams, levies paid by those 10 product groups, plus the fees on the export licence holders themselves. In 2021 the HEA claimed to have collected only 97c for every $1000 of product sent offshore.

The groups use the HEA system for a variety of reasons that include the ability:

  • to apply minimum grade standards across the industry

  • to apply programmes to reduce risk to market access and undertake activities that benefit the development of the industry

  • to capture industry information that can assist with better industry planning and decision making

  • to provide an environment that encourages exporting co-operation and collaboration.

The HEA is governed by a board of five and currently headed by – perhaps appropriately named –Stephanie Honey, a trade policy consultant. It is based in Wellington and has one full time staff member, chief executive Simon Hegarty, and a part-time administrator.


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