History of Buttercup Squash

The history of NZ Buttercup Squash

New Zealand first started exporting Buttercup Squash in 1988

In the late 1980s the New Zealand Squash Council was the first time when a New Zealand horticulture industry sector created a major programme to implement a food safety project. The primary driver was the need to reduce risk for all participants from the grower to the consumer. The squash industry now has a Squash Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme.

A key development of the squash industry was storage and transport. During the 1980s New Zealand scientists worked on door-off containers for transport to minimise losses during storage.


The history of NZ Buttercup Squash

In the year 2000/2001 squash industry and growers investment in research funding was $1.3 million funded via a Vegetable Commodity Levy. The ultimate aim of the R&D programme is to improve product quality.

Research priority areas include:

  • Internal quality, texture and flesh colour
  • Image of freshness/external quality, product colour
  • Product safety/integrity, chemical residues
  • Taste, harvest maturity and crop management
  • Imagery, product attributes
  • Yield/profit, crop management

The key outcome has been a significant enhancement in confidence and competitive edge for New Zealand product in its international markets.

The project has also resulted in additional retailers in export markets being keen to handle the New Zealand product in the future.

Today Buttercup Squash is the country’s fourth largest horticultural export making it a very important vegetable to the New Zealand economy.

Research & Development



NZ export squash growers, packers and exporters maintain a strong emphasis on sustainability through all phases from growing through to export. Examples of this include soil preparation, application of water and fertilisers, Integrated Pest Management, safe disposal of chemical containers, export spray programme, hygiene in the packhouses, random and target residue samples taken during the harvest season, and worker safety.