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Good News For Kiwifruit Growers This Christmas

Good News For Kiwifruit Growers This Christmas

ZESPRI’s announcement today of an increased forecast and its first ever interim dividend is good news for kiwifruit growers, after what has been a challenging year.

The news comes at the end of its centennial celebrations and as the company reaches a billion dollars in sales revenue.

ZESPRI Chairman, Craig Greenlees said the new forecast looked much better than initially expected but the Board recognised that it had been a tougher year for many growers.

The December forecast calculates an increase in total fruit and service payments up $18 million to $605.5 million with significant per tray increases in ZESPRI™ GREEN (35 cents) and GREEN ORGANIC (40 cents) and a nine cent per tray decrease in GOLD due to the payout of rebates to wholesalers who had reached sales targets. FX had a negative impact. In October ZESPRI was forecasting a $10m decrease in total fruit and service payments to $587.5 million due to large volumes as well as quality issues and the ongoing impact of foreign exchange.

“We spent more on in-market promotions late in the selling season this year. We held our price in the markets and at the same time increased our promotional spend and frequency. We are now seeing the results of this,” he said.

ZESPRI will pay a 25 cent per share interim dividend to shareholders in early February 2005. A 50 cent per share dividend was paid to shareholders in October 2004 for the year ended 31 March 2004.

“The interim dividend aims to smooth the flow of money in the industry through the year. We think the money will be useful to growers at this time,” he said.

In addition to a more positive forecast, ZESPRI’s net revenue is expected to reach one billion dollars this year, securing the Company’s place as New Zealand’s biggest horticultural export earner.

The billion dollars, up from $911million for 2003/04, is a result of the record volumes of fruit this season –17 million trays more than last year. On top of the record volumes across all categories, ZESPRI has also seen record prices in Asia and the second highest in-market prices in Europe.

“It’s fitting that we can celebrate breaking through the billion dollar mark in our centennial year – 100 years since kiwifruit was first introduced into New Zealand. And despite it being a challenging year for the industry, it is a great way to end what has been a year of celebration, events, recognition and innovation,” he said.

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