Zespri Confirms Quality Up But New Zealand Kiwifruit Crop Volumes Well Down In 2023
Zespri has confirmed challenging weather events throughout the 2023 growing season have contributed to a lower-than-expected New Zealand kiwifruit crop this season.
The latest New Zealand crop estimate indicates that Zespri now expects to export around 136 million trays of Green, SunGold and RubyRed Kiwifruit to more than 50 countries this season. This is down from the 171 million trays supplied in 2022, with this season’s crop potentially reducing even further as orchard assessments are completed following April’s hail event in Te Puke.
Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson says it’s been an extremely challenging growing season in New Zealand, with growers affected by multiple severe weather events.
“Like many others in the primary industries around the world, kiwifruit growers have faced a particularly tough time this growing season, including many weather-related challenges.
“As a result, we have a limited supply of kiwifruit for our customers this season, particularly Green Kiwifruit where we’re expecting one of the lowest volumes in the past 20 years, with around 42 million Green trays available which is down from around 61 million trays in 2022.
“Despite the challenges, our Zespri teams around the world are working hard with our global customers to get the best possible outcome this season.
Mr Mathieson says that while it is disappointing lower volumes would make it more challenging for customers to access Zespri Kiwifruit, it provided an opportunity for the industry to focus on lifting fruit quality this season and prepare for increased volumes in 2024.
“There’s been a huge effort across the industry and our supply chain to do everything possible to lift quality this season, including making sure we had a really good quality harvest, and that’s been supported by the initiatives that have been established as part of the industry’s Quality Action Plan.
“While it’s still early in the season, it’s been promising to hear the consistent feedback across our key markets that our initial shipments are showing much better quality outturns this season.
“We’ve already seen that in our Asian markets and now again over the weekend in Europe where our first shipment of fruit has been distributed to meet the strong demand we’re seeing from local consumers.
Mr Mathieson says that with more than half this season’s fruit harvested, planning for next season was already underway to manage a much larger forecast crop in 2024.
“From a supply perspective, we’re expecting significantly more volume in 2024 as growers rebound from this season’s weather-related reduced yields and more of our licenced SunGold Kiwifruit hectares come into maturity.
“This growth is expected to continue in the years ahead, with our New Zealand supply alone forecast to reach almost 230 million trays in 2027/28. Our Northern Hemisphere supply locations are also forecast to more than double from this year’s 25 million trays by 2027/28.
“As these increased volumes come into maturity, they will provide terrific opportunities for us to move back into a period of sustainable growth with our customers and sustainable value for our growers.
“As well as investing heavily in our brand and developing new markets, our industry is working hard to build greater resilience into our supply chain so that we can overcome the adverse weather events we’ve faced, deliver larger volumes of consistently high-quality kiwifruit to our customers and consumers in the years ahead and return more value to our growers and communities,” Mr Mathieson says.