Shipment company

Zespri’s first shipment of 115 million kiwi leaf punnets amid labor shortage pressures

The MV Solent Star was the first of 72 vessels scheduled to deliver an estimated harvest of over 190 million trays, or 680,000 tonnes of fruit to Zespri’s global markets. Photo/NZME

There will be “significant pressure” on the kiwifruit harvest due to Covid, as Zespri expects to export 115 million trays of SunGold kiwifruit and around 70 million trays of green this year.

Meanwhile, the first 4,100 tonnes of this season’s Zespri SunGold kiwifruit have left Tauranga.

This equates to 1.15 million trays of fruit leaving the port of Tauranga, bound for Kobe and Tokyo in Japan.

The MV Solent Star was the first of 72 vessels scheduled to deliver an estimated harvest of over 190 million trays, or 680,000 tonnes of fruit to world markets.

Alastair Hulbert, Zespri’s global sourcing manager, said demand for kiwifruit was “incredibly strong” in global markets, and this season he expected another bountiful harvest of fruit.

“We plan to export more than 115 million trays of SunGold kiwifruit and around 70 million trays of Green in 2022.”

This season also marked its first commercial volumes of Zespri RubyRed kiwifruit which would be available in New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and China.

Hulbert said while global demand remained strong, the industry faced a number of headwinds this season given the continued impact of Covid-19 on labor availability.

“We know this season is going to be particularly challenging given the significant labor shortages we are experiencing and the ongoing disruptions Covid-19 is imposing on our global supply chain.

“The labor shortage will put significant pressure on the industry and test our ability to get the full harvest picked.

“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.

“This will involve working closely with our long-term maritime partners to navigate the congestion we are seeing among global maritime networks.”

Hulbert said 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 around 20,000 containers. of kiwis 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.

“This reflects the growing demand we are seeing for our fruit in the region, and our first liner will depart at the end of April.

“While we face challenges this season, our industry remains committed to providing our consumers with another tasty harvest of fresh, healthy and flavorful Zespri kiwifruit,” said Hulbert.