Increased yields and continued investment in marketing and innovation allowed Zespri to sell more fruit faster than ever before over the 2016/17 season.
The single-desk marketer has revealed a record 137.7m trays of New Zealand-grown fruit were sold over the 2016/17 campaign, 18 per cent up on the previous year.
Kiwifruit sales from Zespri’s Northern Hemisphere-based Global Supply (ZGS) programme grew by 14 per cent to 16.6m trays, driven mainly by SunGold vines coming into production in Italy.
Revenue from global fruit sales rose by 19 per cent to NZ$2.26bn.
“Volume growth and continued strong investment by Zespri into marketing and market development helped to lift returns overall with the average return per hectare for New Zealand growers reaching NZ$68,868,” said Zespri chairman Peter McBride.
Zespri’s net profit more than doubled from NZ$35.8m to NZ$73.7m over 2016/17, a performance driven by revenue from the licence tender for Zespri’s proprietary SunGold variety last year.
Despite the strong financial performance, the 2016/17 campaign wasn’t without its challenges. A sharp increase in green volume and a late start to the season, due to delayed maturity, put pressure on pricing at various stages throughout the campaign.
While green returns per tray were NZ$4.36, down from NZ$5.13 per tray in 2015/16, the average return per hectare still eclipsed NZ$50,000 for the third straight season.
SunGold continued to underline its status as a premium line, generating record average returns, despite a significant increase in crop volume.
“Zespri achieved an average per-tray return for the gold pool of NZ$8.64 – up from NZ$8.21 in 2015 – despite supply increasing to 48.5m trays from 32.6m trays in 2015/16. Average per-hectare returns increased by 39 percent to NZ$98,838,” McBride explained.
The average per-hectare return of NZ$54,427 for Organic Green was a record result for the category, although the return on a per tray basis fell to NZ$6.86, down on NZ$7.18 in 2015/16. The return per tray for Green14 (Sweet Green) was NZ$5.79, down on NZ$7.01 the previous season.
The Zespri board approved the intention to declare a 2017 final fully-imputed dividend of NZ$0.17 per share, payable in August. This brings the total dividend to NZ$0.25 a share.
Outlook just a sweet
Zespri openly acknowledges the overall volume outlook for the 2017/18 season is down on the bumper 2016/17 crop, but insists there is still plenty to look forward to.
“Supplied SunGold volumes will increase to around 55m trays but seasonal factors will see green volumes fall back to around 69m trays supplied, versus 83m trays sold last year,” said Zespri chief executive Lain Jager. “Our sales and marketing teams are launching programmes in 59 countries and working hard to maximise value to growers and shareholders through great campaigns and promotions.”