Final shipments of New Zealand kiwifruit to set sail over coming weeks

As its 2022 New Zealand shipping programme draws to a close, Zespri has reported on a “really challenging” season.

The MV Kowhai departed the Port of Tauranga this week

Image: Zespri

The kiwifruit marketer shipped more than 160m trays of New Zealand-grown fruit over the 2022 campaign, via a mix of charter reefer vessels and refrigerated containers.

Alastair Hulbert, chief global supply officer at Zespri, said it hadn’t been all smooth sailing.

“This has been a really challenging season given the ongoing impact of Covid-19 across the global supply chain, as well as the need to manage our fruit quality,” Hulbert explained.

“We’ve faced significant shipping congestion and container shortages at a number of international ports, and we’ve been fortunate that our longstanding partnerships and charter vessels have allowed us to avoid much of this congestion.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the support we’ve received from all of our partners and our industry colleagues, and look forward to shipping the last of this season’s New Zealand crop to our customers over the next couple of weeks.”

Hulbert said a new port service in China, along with a new direct shipping route to North America, were operational changes that Zespri had implemented this year.

“We were fortunate to have made arrangements to be able to ship our fruit to a second port in Taizhou this year, which is around 400km south of Shanghai, allowing us to continue to supply local customers with fruit and avoid the lockdowns in Shanghai,” he explained.

“We also established a new direct shipping service to the West Coast of North America this season as part of a joint venture initiative with T&G Global and Bostock New Zealand, helping reduce transport times considerably to what is an increasingly important market for Zespri.”

The charter reefer vessel MV Kowhai, carrying some of the final volumes of this season’s New Zealand crop, departed the Port of Tauranga this week. It’s bound for Tokyo and Kobe in Japan. The last of the New Zealand crop will be shipped over the coming weeks.

 Zespri is now transitioning to fruit from its Northern Hemisphere partners in Italy, France, Greece, Korea and Japan.

“This year we’re excited to be launching a new shipping service in partnership with Cool Carriers, using a charter vessel – the Baltic Performer - to take fruit from our Italian suppliers directly to our customers in Shanghai,” Hulbert said.