NZ Kiwifruit Growers CEO remains optimistic despite bump in the road

NZ Kiwifruit Growers CEO remains optimistic despite bump in the road

It's been a tough year for the kiwifruit sector with the final numbers released recently by Zespri revealing global revenue and sales volumes are both down on the previous season, while the value of Kiwifruit also took a hit due to quality issues.

Throw in some nasty weather events and the 2022/23 season is probably one to forget.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Chief Executive Colin Bond told REX hosts Hamish McKay and Rebecca Greaves some growers were running at or even below their production costs throughout the year.

"It's accurate to say half of our green growers would have struggled to make a profit," Bond said.

"If you look at Zepri's announcement they're saying the average return for a grower is 57,000 per hectare, well that's around the average cost of production and financing cost."

With a difficult growing season and a labour shortage during the 2022 season, he said the quality issues within the kiwifruit themselves can be generally attributed to these two challenges.

Moving past last year's season, Bond told Greaves and McKay 2023 is presenting different challenges for kiwifruit growers.

"The 2023 harvest that we are in now, it becomes more of a climate story this year."

A warm winter in 2022 led to an indifferent bud break, a very challenging frost event for Bay of Plenty in October and multiple serious weather events including Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle have made it a particularly difficult season this year.

"That's had a very real impact on production this time, so production levels rather than quality, so that's what's going to be hitting grower returns for the coming season."

While many in the kiwifruit sector were severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, Bond said there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"We as an industry had a number of very great years leading up to 2022 and we can have them again.

"We know that we can deal with the quality challenges…we're expecting record production in 2024…the kiwifruit industry is going to continue to be a great place to be invested, we've got a great story to tell and growers need to be engaged for the long haul."

Listen to the full chat between New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Chief Executive Colin Bond, Rebecca Greaves and Hamish McKay above.

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