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Understanding the composition of primary sector workforces over a year

Author: Ministry for Primary Industries

Organisation: Ministry for Primary Industries

Published: 2021

All primary industries employ a high proportion of New Zealanders. There is monthly variation in the size of the workforce across sectors/value chain. For example, horticulture, compared to other industries, is quite variable and red meat processing more variable than sheep & beef farming.

While all sectors employ a majority of New Zealanders, given the seasonal nature of horticulture, migrant labour is also important, more so in production than packing and processing. The seasonal demand for labour also varies depending on the crop. Winter vine pruning is a major activity for viticulture, whereas fruit pricking in late summer is a peak time for pipfruit. Other sectors, while they also have seasonal activities (e.g. calving and tree planting) tend to have a more stable demand for labour.

The primary industries also help manage seasonal demand by employing contractors to undertake specific tasks, such as fruit picking, shearing, land cultivation, making supplementary feed (e.g. silage) and harvesting grains. This usage of contractors means the following graphs do not fully show the peaks and troughs in labour demand across the primary industries.