Company expects to sell its NZ kiwifruit sales to top NZ$4.5bn, marking a return to form after last season’s underwhelming result

Zespri kiwifruit harvest

Returns to growers are expected to rebound

New Zealand-based marketer Zespri says it is “on track” to sell close to US$3bn (NZ$4.5bn) worth of kiwifruit this season.

With improved yields and the country’s largest ever crop of 197m packed trays forecast for the 2024/25 season, the company said it also expected to deliver strong returns to its member growers.

Last season’s harvest was widely regarded as a disappointing one for Zespri’s NZ growers, who were faced with higher costs and a smaller-than-expected crop.

Forecast per-hectare payments – known as orchard gate returns (OGRs) in the business – have apparently increased from last season.

In fact, OGRs for Zespri’s Green and Organic Green fruit are expected to be “at record levels”.

CEO Dan Mathieson, who is set to leave imminently for berry marketer Driscoll’s, said Zespri continued to see strong demand for its kiwifruit in the face of continued challenges for the industry.
“It’s really pleasing that today’s forecast indicates we’re on track to deliver strong value to growers and to meet our target of NZ$4.5 billion in global sales revenue by 2025,” he commented.

“After a tough growing season last year, it’s great to see per hectare returns rebound on the back of much better on-orchard yields which is positive news for our growers.”
He added: “Feedback from customers on this season’s fruit quality has been positive and has supported the strong start we’ve made in key markets, including achieving record sales weeks in our core markets.

“Maintaining our focus on quality in a season where we have significantly more fruit to deliver will remain critical to maximising value for growers.”

While forecast returns have strengthened off the back of larger volumes of fruit this season, unsurprisingly per-tray returns have dipped from last season’s record highs.

However, the bottom end of the latest forecast is apparently above Zespri’s March forecast for all categories other than SunGold and Green14 Kiwifruit.

“It’s an encouraging forecast,” Mathieson continued, adding that there would still be challenges this season with a smaller average fruit size and unfavourable foreign exchange movements from the Japanese Yen.

“Our teams in New Zealand and in market are working hard to manage these, as we look to deliver value through careful monitoring of our fruit inventory levels, strong marketing campaigns and pricing that supports strong run rates throughout the season,” he said.

“As we move further into the season, our focus will be continuing the positive momentum and delivering strong value to growers.”