NZ kiwifruit jobs look uncertain for next season

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NZ kiwifruit jobs look uncertain for next season

New Zealand's largest kiwifruit grower Seeka has said it is unsure about how many people it will employ next season, despite an excellent bud break.

Chief executive Michael Franks said the ongoing Psa-V disease problem meant the outlook was uncertain.

"The reality is we are only getting the first glimpse of what the crop will look like, but the bud break has been fantastic, perhaps the best we have seen but you have to overlay this with the continuing Psa situation which has spread geographically into all varieties," he told

He said the disease would undoubtedly mean lower yields in the forthcoming season starting in March next year.

"Seeka and other postharvesting companies will be looking at costs and staffing and taking commercial decisions accordingly. It's a difficult situation to be in.

"We all have the problem that volumes are reducing and we are competing with each other on price to scramble around and pick up trade."

Seeka currently employs 170 permanent people but typically hires 3,000 staff in the season for picking, packing and quality control.

The company's half yearly review of operations showed the number of trays handled in its packhouses this year was down 13.5%, to just over 21 million trays.

A year ago the company accepted 37 voluntary redundancies from permanent staff.

Related stories: New Zealand kiwifruit packers find Psa symptoms in 'tolerant' varieties

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