High-levels of consumer anticipation and a relatively empty market have created record early-season demand for Zespri kiwifruit in Japan, according to senior company executive Simon Limmer.
“We’re expecting to sell 17-18 m trays in Japan," Limmer said. "In just one week alone we delivered 1m trays to our Japanese customers, eclipsing the previous weekly record for this market by 100,000 trays,
Limmer suggested a high quality crop out of New Zealand last year developed added eagerness amongst Japanese consumers leading into this season. This anticipation was heightened by news of a dry, hot summer prior to the 2013/14 harvest, conducive to growing the high flavoured fruit Japanese consumers crave.
Frosts have also shortened export volumes out of Chile, while European production has tailed off earlier than expected, creating strong demand for kiwifruit globally.
“Upon entering Japan, where we traditionally open our season, we noticed the market was relatively empty, with a lack of substitute products,” Limmer explained.
Limmer travelled to Shanghai last week to welcome Zespri’s first Chinese-bound shipment of the season. The consignment’s arrival tied in with a launch event for Zespri’s new Chinese management team and distribution network, with dignitaries including New Zealand’s Ambassador to China, Carl Worker. “It was the fist charted vessel we have sent to China for a couple of years,” Limmer told Asiafruit. “We officially opened our new offices in Shanghai in the afternoon and continued the celebrations with a banquet in the evening.”
New Zealand-grown kiwifruit is also set to enter the European market this week. Again, the single-desk marketer looks well positioned to capitalise on strong demand for both its green and gold offerings. “There wasn’t a big crop out of Europe this year so markets there should come to a tidy close in terms of domestic production,” Limmer explained.
Limmer also dispelled any concerns about heavy production losses, following a recent hailstorm that swept across the key Te Puke growing region. “Early indications are the storm hit around 70 orchards, with the full extent of the damage not yet known,” he said. “We don’t expect the damage to be anything too material in scheme of things. With over 2,700 orchards nationwide we expect business to keep operating as usual.”
Limmer said the industry remained on track to meeting it production forecast of around 65m trays of green kiwifruit, up to 17m trays of gold and around 3.5m trays of organic.