The first kiwifruit charter ship for 2015 sailed from the Port of Tauranga on Sunday 28 March, marking the start of a season that's promising strong growth with volumes back to pre-Psa levels, Zespri’s chief executive Lain Jager says.
The 2015 harvest began in orchards in Gisborne, Katikati and Te Puke last week, with the first charter shipments of gold kiwifruit leaving on the MV Atlantic Erica for Zespri’s long-standing premium market of Japan. Zespri has chartered 55 refrigerated ships – including five ships direct to Shanghai – and 8,000 refrigerated containers to carry the 2015 Zespri harvest to 54 countries around the world.
Jager says the industry is forecasting a harvest of around 30 million trays of gold kiwifruit – 25 million of this Gold3 (marketed as Zespri SunGold) – surpassing the previous high of 29 million trays sold in the 2011 season. The forecast gold volume this season has nearly doubled from around 18 million trays harvested last season.
“We are also looking forward to another great Green crop this year, with more than 70 million trays forecast from a total crop volume of around 108 million trays of premium Zespri Kiwifruit.
“The NZ industry continues along the Psa recovery pathway, transitioning from the previous gold variety Hort16A to Gold3 with 4,593 licensed hectares in NZ. With total volumes of premium Gold kiwifruit expected to reach pre-Psa levels this season and orchard values back to pre-Psa prices, our industry is good heart.
“While the impact of Psa is still being felt across the kiwifruit industry, this remarkable turnaround is testament to the cooperative and pragmatic nature of the industry and the strong support we have received from Government,” Jager says.
Jager says that Zespri is well on track to selling more than 50 million trays of Gold3 in 2018.
“Our in-market teams are focused on building the demand for Gold3,introducing customers and consumers around the world to this great-tasting new Zespri product,” he says.
Zespri continues to serve and develop new opportunities in our long-standing developed markets of Japan and Europe, as well as developing new markets in rapidly-developing economies, including China, the Middle East and Brazil. Zespri sales in China have grown at about 30 percent per annum over the last decade and are forecast to continue at around 20 percent per annum until 2020, with China expected to be Zespri’s number one market a few years’ time.
Jager says Gold3 had a great reception in Japan last season and demand is strong from Zespri’s customers in Japan as the new season shipment is underway. “We’re also looking forward to great-tasting fruit once again this season, helped along by the hot, dry summer and adequate rainfall.”
The first ship for Europe is due to depart Tauranga in early April.