Zespri’s 2022 export program is underway, with the first 1.15 million punnets of kiwifruit on their way to Japan.
The MV Solent Star is the first of 72 vessels scheduled to deliver an estimated harvest of over 190 million trays (or 680,000 MT) of fruit to Zespri’s global markets, according to a statement from the company.
Alastair Hulbert, Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer, said “demand for Zespri kiwifruit is incredibly strong in our global markets and this season we are expecting another bountiful and tasty harvest of fruit.”
“We plan to export over 115 million trays of SunGold kiwifruit and approximately 70 million trays of Green in 2022, and this season also marks our first commercial volumes of Zespri RubyRed kiwifruit which will be available to consumers in New Zealand, in Singapore, Japan and China,” he added.
While global demand for kiwifruit remains strong, the industry faces a number of headwinds this season given the continued impact of COVID-19 on labor availability.
“The labor shortage will put significant pressure on the industry and test our ability to harvest the entire crop. Our goal remains to take care of our employees and do everything we can to safely pick, pack and ship as much fruit as possible,” added Hulbert.
Port congestion is another issue alerting company officials, the statement said.
In total, Zespri plans to undertake four charter cruises to Northern Europe, 12 to the Mediterranean, six to the West Coast of the United States and 50 to Zespri’s Asian markets, and to send approximately 20,000 containers of kiwifruit this season.
“The continued use of charter vessels will be important to our ability to avoid much of the congestion we are seeing at container ports, and we are also considering new options this season, such as partnering with T&G Global to co- ship fruit to North America,” Hulbert said.
The first shipment under these conditions is scheduled for April.
The 2022 season has the potential to be another banner year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before. A forecast of at least 190 million trays will have to be harvested, surpassing last year’s record of more than 177 million trays. On average, each tray contains about 30 pieces of kiwi fruit.
Photo: Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services