Record season for kiwifruit

  • 25/05/2016
Record season for kiwifruit

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is celebrating a record-breaking season as the industry bounces back from the Psa outbreak.

Its 2015/16 season produced the biggest ever total grower return, highest Green fruit return per hectare, and record sales volumes for both Green and SunGold kiwifruit.

The 2011 Psa crisis nearly devastated orchards and cost an estimated $930 million in lost exports, but the kiwifruit industry has recovered and total sales revenue for the season were up 21 percent to $1.9 billion, Zespri says.

A total 131.6 million trays were sold with New Zealand-grown kiwifruit sales hitting 117 million trays, up 22 million trays on the previous year.

Total fruit and service payments to New Zealand growers increased 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143b while the average return per hectare hit a record $60,758.

Zespri's corporate net profit rose $1.2m to $35.8m due to the increased volumes and a one-off gain from the release by Chinese authorities last month of a $13m provision relating to under-declaration of customs duties by its Chinese subsidiary.

The only cloud in an otherwise sunny picture is that the per-tray return for Green kiwifruit fell to $5.13 from $6.01 the previous year, mainly due to the 12 percent increase in crop volumes to 80.7 million trays. By comparison, Gold per-tray returns were $8.21 from a crop of 32.6 million trays.

"There's always a relationship between supply and demand in the fruit business," said chief executive Lain Jager.

Reduced Green returns were counter-balanced by strong average orchard yields of 11,048 trays a hectare, up from 8,972 trays per hectare last year.

Sales of Gold are expected to hit 45 million trays this season and 65 million trays by 2018 and Mr Jager said so far prices are holding up despite the higher volume.

Mr Jager said the challenge in the next two to three years was building demand ahead of a period of strong supply growth, which reflected the recovery from Psa and development of the new Gold variety.

"We're in a good space but I'd hasten to add that kiwifruit, as with the dairy industry, these things are traditionally cyclical," Mr Jager said.