Zespri’s last charter vessel of the 2023 kiwifruit season has departed the Port of Tauranga.
Around 782 tonnes of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit and 3621t of Zespri Green kiwifruit are onboard the Discovery Bay, which is expected to reach Tokyo in early October before sailing on to Kobe, Japan and then to South Korea.
Zespri has used 51 charter vessels to ship this season’s kiwifruit from New Zealand – including four to Northern Europe, eight to the Mediterranean, two to North America’s west coast and 37 to Asia.
The season’s final container shipments carrying the remaining 2540t of the crop are also expected to conclude over the coming weeks.
Zespri chief operating officer Jason Te Brake said there’s been a huge effort across the industry to deliver this season’s lower crop volume to customers and consumers in more than 50 countries around the world.
“It was another extremely challenging growing season in New Zealand, with a significant reduction in yields as a result of poor growing conditions.
“While lower yields have put real pressure on growers, the industry has focused on maximising value in market and through the supply chain. That’s meant a commitment to improving fruit quality, which has been tracking significantly better than last year, and closer to what we saw in 2021.
“We’ve also implemented strong pricing this season, with per-tray returns at the high end of early season guidance.
“We’ll be finishing the season around eight weeks ahead of last year, which was a conscious decision made to ensure that we keep fruit moving through to customers to avoid late season quality costs for growers.”
Te Brake confirmed planning for next year is already well underway, with significantly more fruit expected to help meet strong consumer demand.
Planning is being led by the Industry Advisory Council (IAC), made up of NZKGI, post-harvest and Zespri’s senior leadership, and will look at what changes are needed to further lift quality and volumes for next season.
“Early indications suggest we’ll have a good level of growth for both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit in 2024 as we bounce back from the challenges of the past two seasons – but as a primary industry we’re still subject to weather-related challenges.”
Te Brake said the company was focused on ensuring the whole supply chain working well – producing a quality product, getting it to market in top shape and then getting as much value as possible for growers.
“As a result of investment in the Zespri brand and in building demand ahead of supply alongside our commitment to quality, growers know that whatever fruit we can get to market in the right condition will sell and sell well.
“We are looking forward to finishing our New Zealand season well and effectively transitioning to our Northern Hemisphere supply during the New Zealand off-season,” said Te Brake.