Last of season's kiwifruit crop leaves for global markets

Container ship APL Denver transporting the final shipment of kiwifruit for the season from Port of Tauranga.
Container ship APL Denver transporting the final shipment of kiwifruit for the season from Port of Tauranga. Photo credit: Supplied/Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

With the last of New Zealand's successful 2019 kiwifruit crop shipped, the industry is celebrating another bumper season.

Four containers of Zespri Green have left Tauranga for North Asia, unloading in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Around 70 tonnes of the Bay of Plenty-grown kiwifruit were loaded onto the APL Denver this week and are expected to reach the first port in 15 days.

Zespri's chief global supply officer, Blair Hamill said 147 million trays of kiwifruit were shipped offshore this season to more than 50 countries, with record numbers of consumers creating unprecedented levels of demand.

"Our premium Zespri SunGold and Green Kiwifruit are more popular than ever, and over the course of the season we've moved 44 full charter shiploads and 17,160 containers, or more than 500,000 tonnes in total, to our markets," he said.

While the number of containers shipped was slightly down on the previous record year, the 2019 season was still the second-largest crop ever harvested by New Zealand's kiwifruit growers while it also marked the first season Zespri exported more SunGold than Green.

For the first time, Zespri exported more SunGold than Green.
For the first time, Zespri exported more SunGold than Green. Photo credit: Supplied

Hamill said that was a significant milestone for the industry. 

"Zespri SunGold was developed through Zespri's partnership with Plant and Food Research, after many years of research and significant investment by New Zealand growers.

Owned by Zespri, it's generating strong returns to New Zealand communities and to our licensed growers offshore and we're excited about the international demand for it."

Progress had also been made in getting fruit in Europe and China earlier in the season than the previous year, helping to meet demand.

"The 2019 season saw our kiwifruit mature earlier meaning we could ship our kiwifruit to consumers earlier in the year and get the season started with a lot of momentum, delivering for consumers around the world.

"We've also received feedback from the markets that the fruit is one of our best-ever tasting crops."

In total, over 74 million trays of Zespri's SunGold and 73 million trays of Green were supplied to global consumers and customers from New Zealand this season.

Planning was already underway for the start of next season's New Zealand crop, with the first vessel expected to export the new season's fruit in March 2020.

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