Vessel carrying 2,500 tonnes of kiwifruit is the first of 63 charted ships expected to be used this season  


The vessel Kowhai was named by Zespri in 2020 and is the first of 63 chartered ships to be used this season 

Zespri’s first charter shipment of the 2024 New Zealand kiwifruit season has departed  Port of Tauranga bound for Shanghai. 

The vessel Kowhai – which was named by Zespri in 2020 – is carrying 700,000 trays, or around 2,500 tonnes of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit, as well as 15 containers of Zespri RubyRed for customers in China. Both the Kowhai and the season’s second charter the Solent Star are expected to reach Shanghai at the end of March.  

It is the first of 63 charter vessels Zespri expects to use this season to ship around half of the expected 193m trays, or almost 695,000 tonnes, of Green, SunGold and RubyRed kiwifruit to more than 50 countries. That’s up from the 51 charter vessels used last season. According to Zespri, charter ships carry more fruit and provide more certainty by sailing straight to market without calling on other ports en route. 

This season’s charter programme uses refrigerated reefer vessels with fruit stored in holds in the body of the ship. It will include three services to Northern Europe, 14 to the Mediterranean, four to North America’s West Coast and 42 to Asia, with the remaining volume to be shipped using container services.   

Zespri chief operating officer Jason Te Brake said after a positive growing season, the first charter of the season is always an exciting moment for the industry.  

“Every season we look forward to our shipping programme getting underway and delivering our Zespri kiwifruit to our markets around the world and that’s especially true with such a big crop expected this year,” he said. 

“We’ve put a lot of focus on our season planning and how we manage this season’s increase in crop volume in a way that will allow the industry to deliver consistently good quality fruit to our customers and consumers throughout the season.” 

Te Brake said a key part of this season’s planning will focus on getting a good source of fruit out to customers to capitalise on early sales.  

“The weather hasn’t entirely played ball and we’re a bit behind schedule but are confident we can deliver the season well,” he said.  

“With the first charter shipment now on its way, there’s a lot of excitement about the season ahead and we look forward to seeing both charter and container ships continue to set sail from the Port of Tauranga to our more than 50 markets including Europe, China, Japan and others over the coming weeks and months.” 

Te Brake said Zespri is continuing to monitor the global shipping environment and remains confident in its ability to deliver this season’s crop, through its charter and container services programme.