MV Kakariki Zespri

The first consignment of the new season was loaded onto the MV Kakariki Credit: Jamie Troughton, Dscribe Media

Zespri expects to ship a record 177m traysof New Zealand-grown kiwifruit over the 2021 campaign.

As the first consignment of the new season set sail for Japan and Korea this morning (17 March), Zespri’s chief global supply officer, Alastair Hulbert, said it was shaping up to be a milestone year for the single-desk marketer.

“We’re expecting to supply around 177m trays of kiwifruit this season, or approximately 700,000 tonnes, which will be a record-breaking crop of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit,” explained Hulbert.

“Our latest forecasts indicate we could potentially reach 100m trays of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit this season, which would be a significant milestone for the industry and reflects the growing popularity of the variety since its commercialisation ten years ago.”

Zespri is also preparing to ship small volumes of its new red kiwifruit this season. Zespri Red kiwifruit will be available in New Zealand stores this month, with the first international shipments scheduled to arrive in Singapore, Japan and China in early April.

With this season’s harvest now underway across all growing regions in New Zealand, Hulbert said the kiwifruit industry is working hard to ensure it can safely pick, pack and ship the crop.

“There has been a tremendous effort from everyone in the kiwifruit industry to respond to the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 and our focus continues to be on safely delivering another great-tasting crop,” said Hulbert.

“We’ll again be embracing enhanced hygiene and safety protocols throughout the supply chain to make sure consumers in our markets around the world can still enjoy our fresh and healthy fruit.”

The first consignment of the new season was loaded onto the MV Kakariki, one of three new specialised reefer vessels built by Fresh Carriers to ship New Zealand-grown kiwifruit to Zespri’s Asian markets.

It was the first of 57 planned charter reefer vessels under Zespri’s shipping programme this season, up from the 49 charter vessels used last season. This season will see five sailings to North Europe, 12 to the Mediterranean and 40 to Asian markets.

“This season we’ve increased the number of charter vessels we’re using, providing an additional 47,500 pallets of reefer capacity,” Hulbert said.

“The use of our reefer vessels, in combination with our refrigerated containers, is providing extra flexibility on when we ship our fruit.

“As we start the delivery of this season’s New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, we’ll continue to work closely with our long-term port and shipping partners to ensure our fruit is reaching consumers in premium condition.”