Kiwifruit from 'record-breaking harvest' shipped off

The 3000  tonnes of kiwifruit is heading for Asia.
The 3000 tonnes of kiwifruit is heading for Asia. Photo credit: Getty

By Maja Burry of RNZ

The final shipments of this season's New Zealand-grown kiwifruit have left the Port of Tauranga, bound for Asia.

The 3000 tonnes of green kiwifruit is headed for Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Greater China.

Zespri chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert said this season, the company chartered 49 vessels and used almost 18,000 refrigerated containers to get around 157 million class one trays of Zespri SunGold, Green and Zespri Red Kiwifruit to more than 50 countries.

Hulbert said this had been a challenging season because of the global impact of COVID-19, but it had been able to continue to operate.

"The wider supply chain including frontline staff at the Port of Tauranga have worked incredibly hard to ship our record-breaking harvest this season, and embrace the enhanced safety measures put in place to keep our people and communities safe during New Zealand's response to COVID-19."

Hulbert said Zespri was now transitioning to fruit from its Northern Hemisphere growing partners in Italy, France, Korea and Japan, which helped ensure consumers could buy Zespri Kiwifruit for 12 months of the year.

With renewed lockdowns in some parts of Europe, he said the priority was the safety of staff in those countries.

"We're adhering to all the government regulations and safety protocols in the various countries where we work.

"For example, our staff in Italy are working remotely where they can, when they're in the office they're obviously working in their own bubble and following strict protocols, keeping kiwifruit going to the market," he said.

Hulbert said it sourced about 22 million trays from the Northern Hemisphere, compared with the 170 million trays of fruit grown in New Zealand.