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Kiwifruit Industry’s big push for seasonal labour

The new campaign is aimed at pickers and packers for 2019.

In an attempt to combat the forecast labour shortage for the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry in 2019, a campaign is being launched for pickers and packers.

In 2018, the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry experienced a severe labour shortage at harvest with 1,200 vacancies unable to be filled.

The kiwifruit industry considers that another labour shortage for the Bay of Plenty is likely in 2019.

To mitigate the potential shortage, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) is employing a labour coordinator and have launched an attraction campaign to increase seasonal labour numbers.

The aim of the labour coordinator role is to attract additional workers and increase the coordination of available labour for harvest and winter pruning.

The role will also establish sustainable labour sources to support the growth of the industry in the Bay of Plenty, where over 80 per cent of kiwifruit is grown.

New Zealanders will be given priority to work, particularly people from Work and Income. The labour coordinator role is funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, the Ministry of Social Development and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers and is expected to run through until the end of 2020.

“Ensuring a sustainable supply of labour is the kiwifruit industry’s top priority," says NZKGI CEO Nikki Johnson.

"The growing appetite for our high quality, great tasting fruit, means we need more people to pick, pack and prune. Luckily the Bay of Plenty has some of the most beautiful beaches and is a very attractive area to come to work.”

In addition to the labour coordinator role, the kiwifruit industry has also recently launched an attraction campaign to attract more pickers and packers to work in the Bay of Plenty between April and June.

The campaign focuses on backpackers, retirees, students and the unemployed and has already started with articles aimed at backpackers placed throughout European media. 

The campaign is supported by kiwifruit industry stakeholders under the BOP Labour Governance Group.

“New Zealand kiwifruit production will increase from 123 million trays in 2017 to 190 million trays by 2027. To meet this demand the industry will need more than 7,000 additional seasonal workers over the next 10 years," says Nikki.

The increased labour demand stems from industry expansion coupled with low unemployment as well as a lack of backpackers and international students. In addition to the labour coordinator role and attraction strategy, NZKGI is working on a range of other topics to improve the labour situation.

This includes the consistency of seasonal work, accommodation, welfare, transport and perception of pay rates.

 

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