Kiwifruit Supplies Feared to Decline as New Zealand Continues to Suffer Bad Weather

New Zealand’s leading kiwifruit packers Seeka and Eastpack are forecasting a significant drop in fruit packing this season, Radio New Zealand RNZ reports.

Seeka CEO Michael Franks said a late spring frost affected many orchards, a wet spring led to poor germination and pollination, and flooding in February. Originally Seeka’s plant could pack 52 million cases of kiwifruit in a season, but this season picking and packing is expected to be no more than 40 million cases.

Eastpack predicts they will also only be able to pack 40 million cases, down 20% from last year. CEO Hamish Simpson said some packing lines may not start this season, but that’s just a special case this year. As long as they can return to average production in 2024, total packaging volume can increase by 30 percent. The produce industry can be challenging from time to time, but looking around at the last 10 years, this is a very rare situation. The current harvest is of red-fleshed kiwifruit, with the first golden fruits picked last Tuesday.

Seeka has assured its overseas customers that it will not pick kiwifruit that have received flooding in Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty. If kiwifruit are contaminated by groundwater, meaning that the water level rises to the point of wetting, soaking and affecting the fruit, then the fruit cannot enter the supply chain.

The New Zealand kiwifruit industry estimates that 72% and 25% of kiwifruit vines in Hawkes Bay and Gisborne were moderately to severely damaged, respectively, and some orchards in the Bay of Plenty were even written off. Eighty percent of New Zealand kiwifruit is grown in the Bay of Plenty, with only a small amount produced in Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and other areas.

Seeka said that only about 5% of production during the normal season comes from Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, with picking in these two areas expected to be reduced by about 500,000 boxes.

Source: International Fruit and Vegetable Report

Post time: Mar-21-2023