New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports

New Zealand's Top 10 Exports


A sovereign island country southeast of Australia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand shipped US$37 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -6.3% dip since 2013 but up a 9.1% improvement from 2016 to 2017.

From January to September 2018, exported goods from New Zealand were valued at $28.6 billion. This 9-month metric puts New Zealand’s exports on track for an annualized $38.1 billion estimated for all 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, New Zealand’s exported goods plus services represent 27.4% of its total economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, over half (53.8%) of New Zealand’s exports by value are delivered to Asian countries while 18% are sold to fellow Oceanian importers led by Australia. New Zealand ships another 12% worth of goods to North America with 10.3% delivered in Europe. A much smaller percentage (3.2%) of New Zealand’s exported goods arrives in Africa.

Given New Zealand’s population of 4.5 million people, its total $37 billion during 2017 export sales translates to roughly $8,200 for every resident in the Oceania island country.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate was 4.6% as of September 2017 down from 4.9% at December 2016 according to Trading Economics.

New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in global shipments from New Zealand during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from New Zealand.

  1. Dairy, eggs, honey: US$10.2 billion (27.6% of total exports)
  2. Meat: $4.7 billion (12.7%)
  3. Wood: $3.3 billion (9%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $1.9 billion (5.1%)
  5. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $1.4 billion (3.7%)
  6. Fish: $1.1 billion (3.1%)
  7. Cereal/milk preparations: $1.1 billion (2.9%)
  8. Machinery including computers: $978.6 million (2.6%)
  9. Modified starches, glues, enzymes: $884.6 million (2.4%)
  10. Miscellaneous food preparations: $873.2 million (2.4%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of New Zealand’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

New Zealand’s top 10 exports accounted for 71.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.

The biggest category–dairy, eggs and honey–were the fastest-growing among New Zealand’s top 10 export categories via its up 27.6% gain from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was cereal or milk preparations which appreciated 25.7%, followed by New Zealand’s wood exports via a 14.9% uptick.

New Zealand’s meat also posted a respectable gain, up 13.6% year over year.

There were two declining categories namely machinery including computers (down -13.6%) as well as fruits and nuts (down -0.8%).


The following types of New Zealand product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Dairy, eggs, honey: US$10 billion (Up by 27% since 2016)
  2. Meat: $4.5 billion (Up by 13.6%)
  3. Wood: $3.1 billion (Up by 15.1%)
  4. Fruits, nuts: $1.6 billion (Down by -1.9%)
  5. Fish: $1 billion (Down by -0.5%)
  6. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $950.7 million (Up by 6.6%)
  7. Modified starches, glues, enzymes: $808.3 million (Up by 5.2%)
  8. Cereal/milk preparations: $735.7 million (Up by 33.8%)
  9. Woodpulp: $567.7 million (Up by 23.9%)
  10. Aluminum: $536.4 million (Up by 22.6%)

New Zealand has highly positive net exports in the international trade of agricultural products. In turn, these cashflows indicate New Zealand’s strong competitive advantages under the dairy, eggs and honey category–particularly for milk, cream, butter and cheese.


Overall New Zealand incurred a -$3.1 billion trade deficit for 2017, up by 34.2% from its -$2.4 billion deficit in 2016.

As of June 2018, New Zealand’s trade deficit stood at -$954 million reversing a $116.5 million surplus during the first 6 months of 2017.

Below are exports from New Zealand that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country New Zealand’s goods trail the island country’s import purchases.

  1. Vehicles: -US$6.2 billion (Up by 19.2% since 2016)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$4.8 billion (Up by 31.2%)
  3. Mineral fuels including oil: -$3.2 billion (Up by 21.8%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.7 billion (Up by 17.9%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.2 billion (Up by 14%)
  6. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$739.1 million (Up by 6.4%)
  7. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$683.5 million (Down by -30.4%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$667.6 million (Up by 15.5%)
  9. Pharmaceuticals: -$666.3 million (Up by 6.7%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: -$629.9 million (Up by 19.9%)

New Zealand has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for automobiles.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate New Zealand’s competitive disadvantages in the international automotive market, which should come as no surprise given the island company has inadequate infrastructure to compete with large-scale automobile manufacturers.


New Zealand Companies

The NZX50 Index is the main stock market index for New Zealand. Based on that index, the following companies are among leading stock companies in New Zealand that have the highest capitalization values.

  • The a2 Milk Company Limited (dairy products)
  • Steel & Tube Holdings Limited (building materials)
  • Nuplex Industries Limited (resins for decorative/industrial/protective coatings)
  • Coats Group PLC (sewing supplies, zippers, fasteners)
  • Kathmandu Holdings Limited (outdoor clothing, equipment)
  • Mainfreight Limited (logistics, transportation)
  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (financial services)


Searchable List of New Zealand’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, New Zealand’s top exports are agricultural products namely milk and cream followed by butter then sheep or goat meat.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from New Zealand during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankNew Zealand Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$5.1 billion+26.1%
2Butter$2.4 billion+37.6%
3Sheep or goat meat$2.3 billion+25.4%
4Rough wood$2.2 billion+21.9%
5Frozen beef$1.8 billion+5%
6Cheese, curd$1.4 billion+14.4%
7Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)$1.2 billion-1.4%
8Wine $1.2 billion+6.7%
9Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$897.1 million+28.8%
10Other food preparations$727.3 million+8.2%
11Aluminum (unwrought)$647.5 million+16.4%
12Casein glues, other casein derivatives$638.6 million+5.9%
13Sawn wood$613.2 million+4.5%
14Apples, pears (fresh)$496.1 million-1.1%
15Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$492 million+67.8%
16Crude oil$444 million+7.7%
17Whey$432.7 million-2.8%
18Wool (uncarded, uncombed)$371.8 million-20.1%
19Gold (unwrought)$363.5 million+30.1%
20Mechano-therapy appliances$321.4 million+6.2%
21Whole fish (frozen)$308.7 million+14.4%
22Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$300.4 million+15.5%
23Moluscs$274.6 million-7.8%
24Natural honey$268.1 million+30.1%
25Fresh or chilled beef$240.7 million+1.1%
26Crustaceans (including lobsters)$227.5 million-10.3%
27Fish fillets, pieces$210.3 million+7.2%
28Wood fiberboard$191.8 million-0.7%
29Animal guts, bladders, stomachs$179.9 million+13.7%
30Albumins$179.5 million+0.9%
31Iron or steel scrap$170.5 million+19.7%
32Red meat offal$163.3 million-2.5%
33Phone system devices including smartphones $159.7 million+22.8%
34Sowing seeds, fruits, spores$144.3 million+29.1%
35Live horses, mules$137.8 million+19.3%
36Miscellaneous meat$135.1 million+11.1%
37Therapeutic/prophylactic medicaments$133.3 million-14.3%
38Blood fractions (including antisera)$132.6 million+13.1%
39Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$130.9 million+19.5%
40Inedible meat flour$129.4 million+16.8%
41Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$124.3 million+10%
42Mechanical woodpulp$123.8 million+21%
43Bovine/equine leather$120.9 million+0.2%
44Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$119.9 million+20.7%
45Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$116.8 million+14.2%
46Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$116.4 million+24.7%
47Buttermilk, yogurt$113.1 million+33%
48Electrical converters/power units$110.5 million+7.3%
49Whole fish (fresh)$110.1 million+7.1%
50Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$107.7 million-0.2%
51Semi-chemical woodpulp$105.4 million+39.3%
52Chocolate, other cocoa-containing preparations$105.2 million+1.1%
53Coated paper$99.1 million-0.5%
54Harvest/threshing machinery$97.4 million-3.3%
55Uncoated kraft paper$97.4 million-3%
56Petroleum gases$97.2 million+819.6%
57Miscellaneous animal products$97 million+19.2%
58Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)$93.9 million-5.3%
59Bovine/sheep/goat fats$91.7 million-0.9%
60Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$89.4 million-3.7%
61Dates/figs/pineapples/mangoes/avocadoes/guavas$87.2 million-0.9%
62Aircraft, spacecraft$86.5 million-2.6%
63Frozen vegetables$86.5 million+1.7%
64Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings$85.9 million+1.4%
65Onions, garlic, leeks$83.2 million-0.4%
66Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$83.1 million+2.9%
67Tufted carpets/textile floor coverings$81.4 million-11.9%
68Silver (unwrought)$80 million-45.8%
69Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$75.4 million+4.2%
70Shaped wood$75 million+6.6%
71Processed petroleum oils$74.9 million+55.9%
72Agricultural/forestry machinery$74.6 million+23.6%
73Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$67.9 million+10.1%
74Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums$67.9 million+28.1%
75Computers, optical readers$66.9 million+15.4%
76Cars$66.3 million+26%
77Other prepared/preserved vegetables (frozen)$66.2 million+13.5%
78Sheep/lamb rawhides, skins$66.2 million+8.3%
79Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$66.2 million+15.9%
80Bovine/equine rawhides, skins$62.9 million+6%
81Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)$62.2 million+10.9%
82Miscellaneous plastic items$62 million+5.8%
83Aluminum waste, scrap$61.2 million+26.1%
84Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$61 million+29.7%
85Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables$59.6 million-8.6%
86Miscellaneous engines, motors$59.1 million-3.2%
87Lifting/loading machinery$58.3 million+28%
88 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $57.5 million+32.8%
89Electrical machinery$55 million+2.2%
90Temperature-change machines$54.2 million+0.2%
91Automobile parts/accessories$53.3 million+7.9%
92Fruit and vegetable juices$53.2 million-2.5%
93Refrigerators, freezers$50.6 million-33%
94Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)$50.2 million-3.4%
95Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$49.6 million-16.5%
96Soups, broths$48.7 million-0.04%
97Air conditioners$48.4 million+11.3%
98Peptones, other derivatives$48.4 million+4.7%
99Magnets including electro-magnets$47.7 million+42.5%
100Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$47.6 million+2.2%
101Ivory, tortoise shell, whalebone, horns$47.5 million+63.3%
102Cigars/cigarellos, cigarettes$46.1 million-17.1%
103Live bovine cattle$45.2 million-23.3%
104Aircraft parts$44 million+115.4%
105Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$43.4 million+10.2%
106Milking machines, dairy machinery$43.4 million+17.4%
107Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$41.5 million-7.9%
108Meat/fish/crustaceans extracts, juices$41.3 million-1.3%
109Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$41.1 million+10.7%
110Solid-form sugars, fructose, glucose, lactose$40.8 million-9.5%
111Poultry meat$40.6 million-0.7%
112Forging, hammering, die-stamping machine tools$39.6 million-1.9%
113Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$38.8 million+44.9%
114Machinery parts$38.8 million-8.2%
115Miscellaneous iron or steel items$38.3 million+21%
116Carboxylic acids$37.9 million-15.4%
117Physical/chemical analysis tools$37.9 million+0.9%
118Copper waste, scrap:$37.8 million+22.8%
119Preparted cereal foods:$37.5 million+12.6%
120Wood carpentry, builders' joinery$35.5 million+8.2%
121Liquid pumps and elevators$34 million-1.8%
122Jewelry$33.7 million-21.8%
123Lower-voltage switches, fuses$33.3 million-3.9%
124Veneer sheets, sheets for sawn wood$33.1 million+12.1%
125Taps, valves, similar appliances$32.2 million+9.6%
126Other measuring/testing machines$31.5 million+18.4%
127Miscellaneous furniture$31.4 million-8.8%
128Provitamins, vitamins$31.4 million+87.4%
129Miscellaneous preserved fruits$31 million+5.2%
130Vulcanized rubber items$30.3 million+17.7%
131Miscellaneous machinery$29.9 million+19.2%
132Bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots$29.6 million+10.7%
133Weighing/counting/checking machinery$28.8 million-7.8%
134Particle board, other ligneous materials$28.6 million-0.2%
135Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)$27.7 million+26.2%
136Malt beer$27.7 million+5%
137Ice cream, other edible ice$27.6 million-1.7%
138Regulate/control instruments$27 million+29%
139Lamps, lighting fittings including spotlights$26.8 million-10.6%
140High-voltage switches, fuses$26.6 million-4.2%
141Industrial preparation machinery$26.4 million+43.2%
142Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$25.9 million+18.8%
143Aluminum containers$25.6 million+35.6%
144Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$25.3 million+32.6%
145Dried shelled vegetables$25.1 million-2.1%
146Interchangeable hand/machine tools$24.7 million+6.9%
147Camp items including tents, sails$24.4 million+24.3%
148Stone articles, other mineral substances$24.1 million-26.4%
149Jam, fruit jellies, marmalades, purees$23.7 million+13.2%
150Specialized machinery parts, accessories$23.6 million-4.1%
151Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)$23.5 million+8.2%
152Aluminum bars/rods$22.9 million+2.8%
153Insulated wire/cable$21.8 million-26.6%
154Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$21.4 million-7.6%
155Other organic cleaning preparations$21.2 million+11.2%
156Live poultry$21.2 million+8.8%
157Sort/screen/washing machinery$20.7 million+5.2%
158Uncoated paper$20.6 million-14.5%
159Trailers$20.2 million+142.2%
160Footwear (leather)$20.1 million+3.9%
161TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$20.1 million-10.7%
162Dried vegetables (sliced, broken, powder)$19.6 million+28.3%
163Zoological/botanic/historic collectibles$19.5 million+75.3%
164Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats$19.2 million+22.6%
165Piston engines$19.2 million+8.1%
166Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$19 million-33.0%
167Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$18.6 million+13.2%
168Unrecorded sound media$18.4 million+33.4%
169Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$18.2 million+24.2%
170Radar, radio communication items$18.2 million-7.5%
171Potatoes$18.2 million+9.4%
172Medication mixes not in dosage$18.1 million+62.5%
173Printing machinery$17.9 million-3.7%
174Base metal mountings, fittings$17.9 million+13.8%
175Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$17.6 million-39.3%
176Sports equipment$17.4 million+4.1%
177Other animal fats, oils$17.2 million+610.3%
178Machinery for making semi-conductors$17 million-52.7%
179Paper packing cartons, boxes, cases, bags$16.9 million-12.8%
180Mineral, aerated waters$16.9 million+11.4%
181Other animal leather$16.8 million-3.1%
182Survey/hydro/weather instruments$16.7 million+31.6%
183Miscellaneous printed matter$16.4 million+5%
184Cases, handbags, wallets$16.2 million-22.8%
185Miscellaneous machine electrical parts$16.2 million+44.4%
186Pasta$16 million-3.9%
187Miscellaneous aluminum items$15.9 million+2.9%
188Non-granulated slag, dross$15.9 million+327.0%
189Paper labels$15.8 million-22.9%
190Rubber/plastic article making machines$15.7 million+32.2%
191Air or vacuum pumps$15.7 million+12.8%
192Paints, varnishes$15.5 million+4.7%
193Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$15 million+27.2%
194Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$14.8 million-2%
195Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$14.7 million+12.9%
196Chemical industry products/residuals$14.7 million+11.5%
197Fresh or dried flowers (for bouquets, ornamental)$14.6 million-0.5%
198Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$14.5 million+46.6%
199Iron and steel stoves, barbecues$13.9 million+9.6%
200Miscellaneous copper items$13.7 million+50.6%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$34.8 billion or more than 90% by value for all products exported from New Zealand during 2017.

See also New Zealand’s Top Trading Partners, New Zealand’s Top 10 Imports and Top Oceanian Export Countries

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 13, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Wikipedia, List of companies of New Zealand. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Wikipedia, NZX 50 Index. Accessed on August 13, 2018