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Early Start to the 2008 Kiwifruit Season

Early Start to the 2008 Kiwifruit Season

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The Sampaquita 1 being loaded on Wednesday 2 April.

MEDIA RELEASE 3 April 2008


The world’s best kiwifruit is now on its way to meet the high demand of discerning Japanese consumers with the departure of the Sampaquita 1 from the Port of Tauranga this week.

The industry has harvested and packed more than double the volume of ZESPRI™ GREEN and GOLD, compared with this time last season. General Manager Supply Chain, Lain Jager, said his team has planned an aggressive early shipping schedule with 15 percent more trays scheduled to be shipped by early May.

“We’re expecting another large crop this year to be exported within the same 30-week window,” said Mr Jager. “Our focus right now is on managing a smooth export operation from the orchard through packing and transport, to ensure the fruit arrives in the best possible condition and meets the quality expectations of our customers."

A new system for managing supplier orders, receipting inventory at the onshore ports and controlling the vessel loading process went live this week, after work by ZESPRI, service providers and industry partners over the past eight months. Lain Jager said the previous wharf system was built over 15 years ago to manage the flow of information between suppliers, ZESPRI and the Port, as part of ZESPRI’s orchard to retail traceability system.

“Our industry has advanced significantly since the early 1990s to now manage almost 100 million trays, and the old system was simply not coping. By replacing it with a solution using our existing SAP infrastructure we have improved process efficiencies and data quality, and created a strong platform to support future growth. The project team has completed an impressive amount of work designing and building the new system, and the implementation has gone smoothly with the first ship of the season being loaded successfully this week."

Dry weather conditions have helped bring this season’s harvest forward and will be critical to ensure successful picking and vessel loading over the next two months. Another important factor is a steady supply of labour for picking and packing. Chief Executive of NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, Mike Chapman, said a labour shortage has been declared in the Bay of Plenty, where 80 per cent of ZESPRI’s kiwifruit is grown.

“Under recently-amended immigration policies, workers can move more freely between employers and regions in areas where a labour shortage has been declared,” said Mr Chapman. This helps revive the harvest trail and should see workers moving from apples to kiwifruit as our picking starts.” He said he was hopeful that sufficient numbers of workers will be available for the season.

The first trays of ZESPRI™ GREEN and ZESPRI™ GOLD Kiwifruit were successfully loaded on the Sampaquita 1 in Gisborne and Tauranga this week, destined for Tokyo and Kobe, with a further 14 vessels scheduled for departure this month.

The first ships are scheduled to arrive in Asian and European ports to capitalise on the early season marketing programmes. The promotions will include television commercials, billboards and magazine advertising, in-store promotions and consumer competitions, nutritional campaigns in schools and strong public relations activities focusing on the health and nutrition values of ZESPRI™ Kiwifruit.


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