Imports of New Zealand kiwis and apples are under threat because of labour shortages.

A shortage of workers in the Hawke's Bay region has prompted fears that when there is a larger-than-average crop, fruit will either not be picked at its best or will be left to rot.

Difficulties with the government's visa scheme and low unemployment are among factors blamed for the labour shortfall.

New Zealand's government has reacted by introducing a number of schemes to enable pickers to move from one area to another and to work for more than one employer.

Previous rules prevented such flexibility.