Spotlight on updated 2022 data

The 2022 tax year workforce numbers have been added to this website as part of our on-going commitment to monitor and evaluate changes in the food and fibre workforce. This 2022 update covers the period from April 2021 until March 2022.

This spotlight presents analysis about what the workforce looked like in that year, comparing it to 2020 and 2021.

What’s covered?

We look at:

  • annual and monthly employment counts;
  • changes in workforce numbers across the food and fibre sectors;
  • changes in employee and self-employment numbers; and
  • changes in numbers of people on working holiday and other visa numbers and visa status (because of the border closures)

Feature Summary

The full findings, including graphs showing workforce trends, can be downloaded at the link below.

The spotlight document provides an analysis of the food and fibre workforce for the year ended 31 March 2022.  The spotlight document primarily provides analysis of the workforce changes between 2021 and 2022. Though the 2020 year has also been included in many of the graphs to help provide additional context. 

Overall, the number of people that were employed across the food of fibre sector was similar to the year ending March 2021. The total annual average number of people employed in the food and fibre sector was up slightly by 0.1% to 359,000 from 358,000 in 2021.

However, annual averages do not tell the full story, the seasonality and diversity of sectors, and roles within the whole sector, mean it is important to look at a range of variables to understand any changes more fully.

The data was broken-down by monthly employment counts, and by sector, value chain analysis, visa status (because of the border closures) and self-employed or employee status. When looking at monthly shifts in the numbers we have observed changes in temporary worker visa types, particularly in the horticulture sector and more generally in the numbers of self-employed people.

The number of people on temporary work visas did not materially change in 2022 compared to the years immediately preceding, exception being working holiday visas. This was caused by the borders being closed until 14 March 2022.

The number of people on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visas was lower than the previous year as numbers reverted to prior year levels (the 2021 tax year was an exception, as many RSE visa holders had their visa expiry dates extended).



Self-employment numbers are slightly lower than previous years and it is unclear on what has driven this metric downwards. Stats NZ’s Linked Employer-Employee Data (LEED) data suggests that this self-employment phenomenon is not isolated to just the food & fibre sector.

The year ahead (2023 tax year)

This data is for the March 2022 tax year. The impacts of COVID-19 and cyclone Gabriel will likely continue to be felt beyond the 2022 year. We will continue to explore this impact as new data becomes available.