The industry’s focus on improving fruit quality and a strong performance in market leads to record forecast for kiwifruit growers

Zespri SunGold

Zespri has released its November forecast for the 2023/24 season, reporting record levels of per-tray returns for green, organic green and RubyRed, with SunGold varieties “well up” on last season.

Green was a particular standout, the New Zealand-based group stated, with the latest forecast showing green per tray returns at a record level of NZ$9. This compared to last season’s final orchard gate return (OGR) of NZ$5.78 per tray.

For Zespri organic green, the forecast per tray was at NZ$12, up from last season’s final OGR of NZ$8.68, and for Zespri RubyRed, the OGR per tray was forecast at NZ$26.10, above last season’s final OGR of NZ$22.27.

Forecast SunGold kiwifruit returns were at NZ$12.35, well above last season’s final OGR of NZ$9.97, and forecast returns for organic SunGold were also up at NZ$14.15.

Zespri said that the November forecast returns were up across all categories on the August forecast, mainly due to improved fruit quality this season.

Chief executive Dan Mathieson said the results reflected the ”strong and growing demand” for Zespri kiwifruit, as well as the huge effort the industry had put into improving fruit quality this year.

“It’s really pleasing to be able to deliver this positive news and to show growers that their hard work and focus on quality is being rewarded in market,” he said.

”It’s particularly great following such a tough couple of years when growers have been under so much pressure while dealing with the likes of ongoing cost increases, the labour shortage, regulatory changes and the changing climate.

“We’ve received positive feedback from our customers throughout the season on the improvement in fruit quality – our efforts have been really appreciated by them – and they also keep telling us how they want even more of our Zespri Kiwifruit next season,” Mathieson continued. “It’s great to have this confidence in our product and see this demand.

“Our job on quality isn’t done yet though and we now have a huge focus on next season – we need to maintain this focus as we look to 2024 when we are expecting to have a much larger crop and likely our biggest year on year growth in volume.

”As we have this year, it’s going to need everyone across the industry doing their part so we build on the positive changes we’ve made – as that’s crucial to returning more value back to growers,” he added.

“One thing our growers can have confidence is whatever fruit we can get to market in the right condition will sell and sell well.”