The healthy state of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry has been reflected in the season results announced by Zespri.
Zespri said returns to growers and the industry had reached new levels, with operating revenue from global kiwifruit sales and licence release revenue exceeding $3 billion for the first time.
Its net profit after tax increased to $179.8 million from $101.8 million in the 2017/18 season.
Zespri said the results reflected continued strong international demand, with a total of 167.2 million trays of kiwifruit sold in 2018/19, a 21 percent increase on the 138.6 million trays sold in the previous season.
Revenue generated by global kiwifruit sales and SunGold licence release increased by 26 percent to $3.14 billion.
Total fruit and service payments (including the loyalty premium) to New Zealand growers was up 24 percent to $1.82 billion, while average orchard gate returns to growers increased by 6 percent to $63,622 per hectare for Green Kiwifruit, by 28 percent to $145,991 per hectare for SunGold, by 40 percent to $73,350 for Green Organic and by 14 percent to $44,549 per hectare for Sweet Green.
Zespri Chair Bruce Cameron said growers and their communities are benefiting from increasing demand for Zespri Kiwifruit and from the industry's growth to drive and meet that demand.
"Consumers around the world are increasingly embracing healthier products and want more of our kiwifruit because they know it is a convenient way to get their daily nutrition and because it tastes great," he said.
"That's evident in the increased volumes of both Green and SunGold Kiwifruit Zespri sold last season which has driven record average returns per hectare for both categories," Cameron said.
While SunGold also returned record levels per tray, Green returns per tray were down slightly because of higher-than-expected volumes which led to an extended sales window and associated increases in quality costs.
"The sustained growth of the industry is really encouraging and the increase in average returns is helping growers meet increasing operational costs including labour."
Meanwhile Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said strong growth is forecast again this year.
"We're very pleased with the progress made in the 2018/19 season but as always we're focused on doing better, delivering the world's best kiwifruit to consumers and creating more value for our growers, and all of our partners," he said.
"Our ambition is to help drive greater value through growing new markets and increase our penetration in existing ones," said Mathieson.
He said there is strong growth in Zespri's largest markets, including Japan, China and Spain, and progress is being made in newer ones like the US.