NZ: Zespri announces record kiwifruit returns in 2012-13

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NZ: Zespri announces record kiwifruit returns in 2012-13

New Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri has announced it recorded the highest-ever average orchard gate return (OGR) for growers this year, at a level of NZ$51,153 (US$41,266) per hectare. Zespri kiwifruit

The company highlighted that average per-tray green kiwifruit returns rose by 21% year-on-year to NZ$4.62 (US$3.72), with a per hectare average return of NZ$37,959 (US$30,613).

In a relase, chairman Peter McBride said these results were a result of efforts to lift the profitability of green kiwifruit, combined with improving performance both at orchard and post-harvest levels.

"Strong underlying demand created by over a decade of investment in the Zespri brand has delivered a substantial competitive advantage and premium to New Zealand growers, which – in turn – earned $1.10 billion in export earnings for the New Zealand economy," he said.

"Delivering the highest Green per-tray OGR for ten years is particularly impressive, considering the operating environment in 2003 was considerably more favourable than today, in terms of foreign exchange rates and a much smaller volume – 49.9 million trays in 2003/04, as compared to 71.4 million trays last financial year."

Zespri Gold returns were up 12% at NZ$101,973 (US$82,271), while organic green returns per hectare fell 2% to NZ$34,846 (US$28,129).

While Zespri is contesting fraud charges in China in a court case that has attracted significant political attention at home, volumes sold in China rose by 9% to 10.04 million trays in 2012-13, with market returns up 21%; the East Asian country accounted for around 11% of total returns.

"It is well known that we have been dealing with some challenging issues in China, including transitioning to a new management team and improving our business practices – but we have been determined to make that transition without disrupting the business," McBride said in the release.

"This result suggests our management, together with our new import partners, are achieving both our change management and sales objectives."

While returns have been higher, kiwifruit disease Psa cut back volume by 5%, while gold volumes were down 16%. Efforts to combat the bacteria and legal costs in China slashed year-on-year profit by 62% to NZ$7.6 million (US$6.1 million) for the period.

"This [gold] impact will be even more pronounced in 2013/14, with Gold volumes down to around 13 million trays for the year," CEO Lain Jager said.

"We expect Gold volumes will begin to recover after the 2013 season with around 1,860 hectares of the Psa-sensitive Hort16A canopy grafted over to the more Psa-tolerant Gold3 in 2012/13, and around 2,320 Gold3 hectares in total around the country.

"Growers have taken very determined actions to recover from the impact of Psa by grafting across to Gold3 and other more Psa-tolerant varieties and changing their management practices to cope with the disease."


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