NZ kiwifruit ‘underperformed’ in 2011, says Satara MD - FreshFruitPortal.com

NZ kiwifruit ‘underperformed’ in 2011, says Satara MD

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NZ kiwifruit ‘underperformed’ in 2011, says Satara MD

New Zealand’s leading kiwifruit co-operative says the industry’s produce was ‘undersold’ by single desk marketer Zespri this year.

Tom Wilson

Satara Co-operative Group managing director Tom Wilson, has told www.freshfruitportal.com the fact growers struggled with returns is a sign the marketer needs improvement.

"The industry produced around 115 million trays, which was more than what Zespri was expecting at less than 100 million trays, so they were effectively caught out with volumes that the industry seemed up to filling and the returns were poor as a result," he said.

"From a grower perspective we are price takers, and in terms of value the horse has bolted. The underlying issue of that is that fruit is now going to waste.

"The single desk structure with Zespri is the right structure, but this is about accountability of performance for Zespri as a business. That’s where you’ll see more noise coming from growers and the post harvest companies."

Wilson says the issue comes down to economic viability, and even with the challenge of vine disease Psa-V he doesn’t expect growers will be jumping ship any time soon.

"In the commercial sense, like any farmer in business you can take only a certain percentage of your returns to diminish before it becomes unviable commercially.

"The commercial return per hectare for kiwifruit is the best commercial return you can get around, but we’ve just had a situation where the marketer has underperformed. They just need to get their act together.

"New Zealand in a farming sense is pretty good at what it does – it’s a great industry and will be a great industry. We’ve had a hiccup with Psa but we will find a solution, that’s one thing New Zealanders are very good at. One day we will see this as just a blip in our history."

In an announcement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) last month, Wilson said an average price of NZ$3.59 (US$2.87) per tray for green kiwifruit was 'devastating', and equated to a NZ$0.11 (US$0.09) loss before living costs.

He said average gold kiwifruit prices of NZ$7.34 (US$5.86) per tray led to an average profit for growers of NZ$2.70 (US$2.15) per tray.

Photo: Rotorua Daily Post

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