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6.29      Chestnuts

6.29.1      Chestnut industry profile

The New Zealand chestnut industry is small and predominantly based around hobby growers, in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Auckland areas. However, chestnut trees will grow successfully across most of New Zealand and there are many new plantings established in Northland, Wairarapa, Horowhenua and Canterbury.

Chestnuts are a prescribed product under the Horticulture Export Authority. The recognised grower body is the New Zealand Chestnut Council Inc. (NZCC) (www.nzcc.org.nz) (Product Group Manager – Ray Knowles, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The aim of NZCC is to encourage, promote and advance New Zealand's Chestnut Industry including the promotion of the sale and consumption, of fresh and processed New Zealand grown Chestnuts, both in New Zealand and overseas, for the benefit of New Zealand Chestnut Growers.

Fresh nut production is around 300-400 tonnes per annum, with little fresh nut exported. The emphasis has now largely shifted away from fresh export to frozen export and/or value-added processing (e.g. chestnut flour, chestnut crumbs).

Table 6.29.1: Chestnuts (0802.41.00.00) export markets 2016-18 (year ending June, tonnes and $NZ FOB)

Market

2016

2017

2018

Volume

Value

Volume

Value

Volume

Value

New Caledonia

0.8

5,998

0.2

1,273

1.1

7,901

Total

0.8

$5,998

0.2

$1,273

1.1

$7,901

% change (yr/yr)

152%

169%

-79%

-79%

527%

521%

Source: Statistics New Zealand

SPS market access barriers

Export markets for New Zealand chestnuts in the USA and Australia declined around 2007 due to requirements to devitalize nuts with methyl bromide. Any chestnuts that are still exported fresh go to countries that do not have a methyl bromide fumigation requirement, including New Caledonia and Cook Islands.

Food Value: Chestnuts have a nutritional composition that sets them apart from all other nuts and makes them an outstanding food source which can be a dietary staple. The nuts are ~50% water when fresh, which makes them highly perishable. Chestnuts are made up of primarily complex carbohydrate, are low in protein (~5%) and are very low in fat (~1%), have reasonable quantities of vitamin C and potassium, are very low in sodium and are free of gluten, oil and cholesterol. The protein is of very high quality, comparable with eggs and is easily assimilated by the human body.

The flavour, texture and sweetness of the nuts from different chestnut species and varieties varies widely, from tasteless and bland to very sweet and flavoursome.

Source: NZ Chestnut Council website – www.nzcc.org.nz