With export programmes launched over the weekend, Zespri has forecast a steady rise in the volume of gold kiwifruit it will ship internationally this season, according to the New Zealand single-desk marketer’s chief executive Lain Jager.
The 2014 harvest is now underway in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Te Puke, with Jager estimating 16m trays of gold fruit to be harvested, including around 9m trays of the Gold3 variety, marketed as Zespri SunGold. This estimate is up on the 11m gold trays harvested last season.
“SunGold has been the cornerstone of the industry’s recovery from the Psa vine-killing disease, replacing the more Psa-susceptible Gold (Hort16A) variety, with more than 4,000 hectares now licensed to grow in New Zealand,” Jager said in a release. “While we will never eradicate Psa from New Zealand, the ability of the industry to start rebuilding volumes in such a short time is testament to the innovative and cooperative nature of New Zealand growers and the very strong support we have had from the government and other industry stakeholders.
Jager said Zespri is on track to having 50m trays of SunGold available by 2018, with over half of New Zealand growers now growing more than one variety on their orchards.
The first shipment of the season departed the Port of Tauranga for Japan on Sunday (30 March). Jager said early season demand in Japan, Zespri’s largest country market, was strong, with customers excited about the prospect of more fruit being made available this season.
“ Our volumes and pricing in Japan tends to quite stable, although our gold volumes have dropped in recent years due to Psa,” Jager told Asiafruit. “The early market in Japan looks ok and we are pleased to have a little more gold for our Japanese customers this year.”
Zespri expects to load 49 chartered refrigerated vessels over the next 32 weeks to exclusively carry the majority of the New Zealand crop to key markets in Asia and Europe, including two ships direct to Shanghai. Jager said chartering ships to exclusively carry Zespri fruit gave the marketer greater flexibility and efficiencies in its supply chain. The remainder of the 2014 harvest will be shipped in around 5,000 refrigerated containers. The first shipment to Europe is due to depart New Zealand in early April.