Our Grapes and Wine Workforce Development Plan contains further analysis of Industry, Workforce and Learner data trends.

Grapes and Wine industry trends

The wine industry had a ‘massive’ harvest in 2022 and production trends are now returning to the previous long-run increases. Consolidation, mechanisation and labour market dynamics are also increasing the need for new skills.

From Northland to Central Otago, New Zealand is home to the world’s southernmost vineyards. Marlborough is the biggest wine region, 73% of New Zealand Wine Growers’ members were in Marlborough in 20221.

The rising global demand for New Zealand wine has driven up wine grape prices, boosting profits for growers despite challenges like labour shortages and supply cost challenges. A bountiful 2022 harvest and high export prices led to a significant increase in export revenue for the year ending June 2023. This trend is expected to continue due to a new free trade agreement with the European Union. While a few growers focus on table grapes, non-wine grape growers face tough competition from imports. In 2022, the industry experienced a 44% increase in volume of production from 2021, and is expected to continue to increase through to the year ending June 2023. The industry contributed almost $1 billion to GDP in 2022 – Grape Growing contributed $317 million and Wine Production contributed $616 million2. The industry has seen consolidation, increased mechanisation and changing labour dynamics which are likely to lead to changing skill requirements for the workforce3.

Grapes and Wine workforce trends

The workforce has seen modest decreases which are linked to both the industry challenges and changes in business model. The industry has areas of high levels of seasonal variation (which affect how forecasts should be treated). The horticulture sector workforce as a whole is forecast to increase by at least 16% by 2032 with increases being particularly concentrated in higher skill role types that will require increased levels of training. The workforce has low new entrant retention rates and low levels of industry tenure which drive a need for training of replacements. The sector has very significant reliance on those on temporary and work visas making the industry vulnerable to changes in immigration trends and policy shifts.

Grapes and Wine workforce overview and and highlighted demographics

In 2020, 11,390 people worked in Grapes and Wine, and 49% of the workforce were under 35 years old. Out of all of the Muka Tangata industries, Grapes and Wine has the highest percentage of the workforce who leave to go overseas (14%). The ethnicity of the workforce in 2020 was 82% European, and 8% Māori. People who identify as Māori have been decreasing in Grapes and Wine since 2016. The number of people who identify as female is 44%, which is higher than the average across all Muka Tangata industries. The Grapes and Wine workforce has a high reliance on temporary and work visa holders with 10% comprising Work Visa holders and a further 15% on Working holiday visas in 2020 . This makes it vulnerable to changes in immigration trends and policy shifts.

Grapes and Wine workforce forecasts

MPI forecasts, using the conservative ‘BAU Scenario’, are for an increase in worker numbers – particularly in higher skill level roles. Within the Grapes and Wine workforce there is significant season variation – this affects how forecasts should be interpreted as the forecasts below are based on a version of an annual ‘full time equivalent’ and therefore will underrepresent the number of actual workers forecast to be in the sector. We have mapped these forecasts to the roles and related qualifications for each of our industries and used them as an input to the level of increase requested for each qualification. See Appendix A: Translating MPI workforce forecasts to learner enrolment numbers for more details.

Grapes and Wine workforce retention and tenure

The Grapes and Wine workforce has a low level of new entrant retention and a low level of industry tenure. This replacement demand also is a driver of training requirements in this industry. This training is not lost to the sector – over a third of new entrants to Muka Tangata industries come from another Food & fibre industry and our qualifications are increasingly focused on transferable skills. Specialised education and retention are associated with retention – so increased training is expected to support retention within the industry and broader sector.


3. IBISWorld A0131NZ - Grape Growing in New Zealand industry report October 2023

6. See Figure 5 Source Stats NZ Census 2018 skill and workforce analysis 2023 (forthcoming)