Kiwifruit marketer Zespri will trial direct shipments from New Zealand’s Northland region this season, in a move that could slash transport costs by over NZ$60 per pallet.
According to the Northern Advocate, the new service, being operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, will commence this May from Northport at Marsden Point.
Aptly named Kiwi Express, the service will depart Northport for Singapore every two weeks, loaded with Zespri kiwifruit and other produce grown in the area.
The Northland currently produces around 500,000 trays of kiwifruit each year, equating to around 13,000 pallets. In the past, the Northland’s fruit has been trucked from Kerikeri to Auckland, then loaded onto trains and sent to the Port of Tauranga, where it is shipped alongside fruit grown in the Bay of Plenty.
The Northern Advocate’s report suggests the transport costs associated with this process are around NZ$102 per pallet, as opposed to NZ$36 per pallet from Northport.
“It's a major step forward for the growers up here. It's better for the fruit and it's better for us,” Alan Thompson, a kiwifruit grower-packer from Kerikeri, told the Northern Advocate.
The trial will run until the end of the Northland kiwifruit season in August, with Zespri hoping to make the service permanent by 2019.