The New Zealand kiwifruit industry enjoyed record production and export growth in 2007, as favourable weather conditions, including warm spring, regular rainfall, and a dry autumn, helped boost the yield.
Total production in the country rose 11.5 per cent to 367,916 tonnes during the year, according to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), despite harvested area increasing by only 2 per cent.
Kiwifruit exports hit a record 347,916 tonnes during the year, a 12.2 per cent increase on 2006. The EU remained the largest importer of the fruit, the USDA report added, with around 170,000 tonnes imported, followed by South Korea (25,855 tonnes), Taiwan (16,754 tonnes), Australia (18,977 tonnes) and the US (18,789 tonnes).
Despite the increase in production, orchard profitability stood at just NZ$0.76 (US$0.57) per tray, a significant drop on NZ$3.80 (US$2.85) from four years previous. The USDA attributed the drop to higher costs including labour and pack shed charges, as well as poor orchard gate prices.
The report added that exports for 2008 are expected to increase a further 4 per cent to hit 362,700 tonnes, as a result of better orchard yields, larger fruit size and lower loss rates. Overall production is forecast to break another record by hitting 382,000 tonnes, an increase of 4 per cent.