• 5270
    Total Filled jobs in Mushroom and Vegetable Growing March 2022. This is lower than the peak from previous years
  • $684m
    Generated as Fresh and Processed Vegetables export revenue for the year ending March 2023
  • 29%
    Of all Fresh and Processed Vegetables exported to Australia year ending March 2023
  • 12,029
    Individuals worked in the Vegetables industries in 2021


When Māori arrived in Aotearoa, they brought some vegetables with them, including kūmara, yams and taro. European explorers and settlers began bringing vegetables in the late 18th century, with peas, maize and potatoes being some of the first to arrive. Māori became the first commercial vegetable growers in the country, trading with early settlers and exporting potatoes to Sydney, Australia in the 1830s.

By 2023, the Vegetable industry’s contribution to GDP was $532 million and we counted 12,029 people in the workforce in 2021. The workforce is ethnically diverse, with a makeup of 32% Asian, 18% Māori and 12% Pacific peoples. The industry is a fertile place for innovation in Māori agribusiness. For example, with support from Ministry for Primary Industries, the Whangaparāoa Māori Lands Trust has explored the potential of their whenua near Tihirau (Cape Runaway) to create jobs. Small plots of trial crops including kūmara, taewa (Māori potatoes), edamame beans and peanuts have been planted. The Whangaparāoa landowners cluster is made up of representatives of the owners of 25 Māori land blocks, covering 18,000 hectares of land.

Like other industries within the food and fibre sector, labour shortages continue to provide challenging conditions for growers, compounded by the seasonality of the work and lack of skills to support technological changes around production. At the same time, technological changes and innovation provide huge opportunity for the industry and may offer a solution to these ongoing labour shortages. Adaptable and flexible learning and training, that supports transferability of skills across industries will also be required.

Find out about our work to assess the quality of programmes delivered by providers for this industry here.

2025 Investment Advice

Muka Tangata provides advice to TEC on investment in vocational education to influence funding decisions that considers industry needs, to help match skills and workforce demands with supply.

Learn more


We highlight the current key priorities and opportunities for each industry. These opportunities will be updated on an ongoing basis as our understanding of the industry evolves and deepens.

This is our plan to address the opportunities that arose from our engagement, research and analysis. It includes real actions that we are committed to delivering – these are both industry specific and cross-cutting actions across all industries in the food and fibre sector where common themes emerged.

It includes broader areas or dependencies where external parties will need to provide input into solutions with Muka Tangata support; for example, advocacy, engagement, collaboration, and provision of specific expertise or data. We will work in collaboration with those who will need to take the lead in this area. This section will test potential solutions that we’re working on and seek feedback and input into them.