Harvesting of Green, Gold and Red Kiwifruit begins
The 2020 harvesting of Green, Gold and Red Kiwifruit has begun with kiwifruit picking underway in Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty.
The 2020 season is forecast to be another very large crop with around 155 million trays of Green and Gold kiwifruit expected to be picked in orchards and packed in packhouses across New Zealand from Northland to Motueka. This year’s crop is forecast to be well up from the 147 million trays exported in 2019.
It is predominantly the Gold variety which is first picked, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. The last fruit is picked in June.
Alongside the picking of Green and Gold kiwifruit, Zespri Red Kiwifruit will also be picked as a commercial variety. The sweet, berry-tinged tasting kiwifruit will be destined for markets in Japan and Singapore as well as supermarket shelves in New Zealand.
Nikki Johnson, CEO of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. - NZKGI, says that consumers should expect the fruit to be tasting great. However, there are some potential hurdles around dry weather, Coronavirus and seasonal labour availability.
“As the kiwifruit is packed, we will start to have a clearer picture of the impact of this years’ hot and dry weather which may be influential,” says Nikki.
In addition to the dry weather, this season also has an emphasis on being well prepared for potential disruption from Coronavirus.
“As we are working with a food crop, the industry already has strong processes in place around food safety and personal hygiene and these will continue to be important. The industry is working together to plan and mitigate disruption and will be following public health recommendations,” says Nikki.
Based on the forecast volume and spread of the harvest season, it is currently forecast that around 20,000 workers will be required throughout the harvest period. However, Nikki says it will become clearer if there are sufficient workers as the industry gets closer to the peak of harvest and the requirement for significantly more seasonal workers increases.
NZKGI has taken proactive steps to mitigate the likely labour risk and will be communicating on the steps which will be taken over the coming weeks. In addition, NZKGI has been in conversations with forestry organisations to ascertain if there is the ability to provide opportunities to forestry employees while there is a lull in wood exports.
Zespri Chief Grower & Alliances Officer Dave Courtney says Zespri was expecting another great tasting crop with more SunGold than Green kiwifruit.
“This year we’re again expecting to have more SunGold than Green kiwifruit, and of course we’ll be bringing an increasing amount of Zespri Red Kiwifruit to market following last year’s limited release.
“We’re also excited to introduce our new brand to consumers and progressively roll this out to markets across the year,” says Dave.
Kiwifruit is by far New Zealand’s largest fresh horticultural export, with over NZ$2.63 billion in sales of New Zealand fruit in 2018. This represents the value of over half of all New Zealand’s horticulture exports. In 2018 over 2,700 growers grew 149 million trays of kiwifruit which was sold to over 50 markets. The industry is experiencing strong growth which is expected to continue over the coming years.
New Zealand kiwifruit production is expected to jump from 123 million trays in 2017 to 190 million trays in 2027. The kiwifruit industry’s global revenue is expected to jump from over $2.63 billion in 2018 to $6 billion by 2030.
The 2018 regional contribution is broken down as follows: Northland $76m, Auckland $70m, Waikato $65m, Bay of Plenty $1.45b, Poverty Bay $57m, Hawke’s Bay $32m, Lower North Island $7m, and South Island $58m
The importance of New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry is represented through its contribution to New Zealand’s local economies, contributing $1.82 billion to kiwifruit growing regions in 2018.