Chilean kiwifruit exporters are anticipating a difficult start to the Southern Hemisphere season due to the high availability of low-priced Italian fruit, especially in smaller sizes.
The Chilean Kiwifruit Committee (CKC) said the unfavourable market conditions, coupled with the new ripeness parameters established by the industry, would discourage an early start to shipments this year.
The latest estimates peg the Chilean crop at 166,540 tonnes, a 9 per cent decrease on last year’s total and 24 per cent lower than the 2014 harvest. In common with other crops, the wet spring, followed by a hot summer and low accumulation of cold hours during the autumn affected first blossoming and then fruit growth. Average fruit size is expected to be somewhat larger than last year.
Together with increased Northern Hemisphere production, a rise New Zealand’s kiwifruit output may hinder prices this season, the committee said.
“Nevertheless, since the Northern Hemisphere supply consists mostly of small sized fruit, the larger sized fruit will have market opportunities, along with higher demand and chances to reach better prices,” the CKC explained.
“This season’s abundant total supply strengthens the need to ensure the shipment of good, uniform, and consistent quality fruit.”
Official estimates suggest that Northern Hemisphere kiwifruit production will increase by 9-15 per cent in the 2015/16 season.
Italy, which accounts for about 63 per cent of the European volume and exports about 70 per cent of its supply, has seen a significant extension of its marketing window, which in turn has hampered the start of the Southern Hemisphere season. Sales of Italian kiwifruit are projected to last beyond the historical deadline of 15 May and could run into June.
Furthermore, early production from Greece was higher this season, hindering not only the start of the season of other European suppliers such as Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain, but also posing strong competition to Chilean kiwifruit at the end of its 2015 season.
In terms of Southern Hemisphere supply, New Zealand’s exports of green kiwifruit are expected to weigh in at around 300,000 tonnes, a 2 per cent increase on last season, while exports of yellow varieties will rise by 80 per cent to almost 180,000 tonnes.
While companies who are not members of the CKC began harvesting low volumes in week 10, members of the committee would start harvesting around a week later than usual to ensure compliance with the new dry matter parameters required by the CKC’s Ripeness Assurance Programme.
“It is worth noting that despite a slight delay of the start of harvests, they should not last beyond usual, so the harvest period should concentrate over a shorter span of time this year,” the committee said.