The NZ Blackcurrant Industry

Growing Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) were first planted commercially in New Zealand in the early 1970s. More extensive plantings followed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in Nelson, Canterbury and Southland.

The number of commercial growers peaked in the mid 1980’s and then shrunk, as the Southland crop was removed due to less than optimal growing conditions and crop yields. Although there are fewer growers the planted area and production yields have continued to grow since the late 1990’s. In the 2018/2019 season there are 21 levy paying grower members of BCNZ, with a total annual production volume ranging between 6,500 – 9 000 tonnes.  


  • Nelson: 2 commercial growers
  • Canterbury: 10 commercial growers

Exporting Blackcurrants

The bulk of New Zealand Blackcurrants are processed by our member processors into concentrate, which is then exported around the world.

To locate suppliers of raw or processed blackcurrants, visit the Links page to find contact details for growers, exporters and processors.

New Zealand Blackcurrant Exports 2010 – 2012 (year ending June, tonnes, $NZ FOB)

  2010 2011 2012
Product Volume Value Volume Value Volume Value
Concentrate1 1137 $10,915,132 1008 $11,576,633 1300 $14,763,451
Individual Quick Frozen2 668 $1,989,050 431 $1,201,933 738 $2,273,324
Other3 442 $5,241,542 338 $4,805,700 235 $1,787,268
TOTAL 2247 $18,145,724 1777 $17,584,266 2273 $18,824,043

1 World Customs Organisation code: 2009.89.20.15 and 2009.89.30.25 2 World Customs Organisation code: 0811.20.09.21 3 World Customs Organisation code: 0811.20.09.29 and 2008.99.31.01 Source: New Zealand Horticulture Barriers to Our Export Trade, November 2012

Blackcurrant Breeding

riwaka-shot-for-about-us BCNZ and Plant and Food Research are partners in BlackHort, a jointly funded NZ blackcurrant breeding programme, which began in 1992. BlackHort also administers and collects royalties from plant and fruit sales. Our breeding programme focuses on commercial objectives, incorporating characteristics desired by our New Zealand growers and marketers, including:

  • colour, flavour, acidity, sugar content
  • enhancing health related qualities (e.g. vitamin C, anthocyanin)
  • berries for different end products, being frozen whole (IQF) vs. concentrate/juice
  • consistently high fruit yield
  • natural pest and disease resistance (e.g. Synanthedon tipuliformis (currant clearwing) and Cecidophyopsis ribis (blackcurrant gall mite or big bud mite))
  • growth habits for efficient machine harvesting
  • lower winter chill tolerance

Successful varieties that have been released to growers from the breeding programme and are now being grown include “Sefton”, “Murchison”, “Blackadder”, “Melina”, “Isobel”, “Kepler”, “Campbell”, “Hopkins” “Stewart”, “Hamilton” and “Christina”. We are very proud of the links that our programme has established with the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, the Research Institute of Horticulture in Poland and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture in Australia. CLICK HERE to see Plant and Food Research footage of our breeding plot in Canterbury.