New Zealand kiwifruit season expected to be biggest ever

Largest-ever kiwifruit harvest begins in New Zealand

New Zealand’s 2021 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off, with another record-breaking year expected in 2021.

Last year's record of 157 million trays of export Green and Gold is expected to be topped, according to New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated.

The Gold variety is usually picked first, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. Harvest peaks in mid-April and runs through until June.

In addition to the Green and Gold kiwifruit, consumers can look forward to Zespri’s sweet, berry-tinged tasting Red kiwifruit which will also be picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and some overseas markets this year.

New Zealand has some 2,800 growers who produce kiwifruit across 13,000 hectares of orchards between Kerikeri in the north and Motueka in the south.

Nikki Johnson, CEO of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI), says that the lead-up to harvest has been a mixed bag for growers.

“This year has been devastating for a small number of growers whose crops in Motueka and other isolated areas were hit by hail. On the other hand, the season is shaping up to produce high-quality kiwifruit which means consumers can anticipate a great tasting product coming to supermarket shelves.”

Carol Ward, Zespri’s Chief Grower, Industry and Sustainability Officer, says the wider kiwifruit industry’s ability to adapt and work closely together last season meant the industry could safely pick, pack and ship a record-breaking crop of fruit, and expected the 2021 season to be no different.

“Growers and the wider kiwifruit industry are working hard to make sure consumers across the world can enjoy fresh, healthy fruit like our kiwifruit once harvest begins.

“We’re encouraged by the strong demand we’re seeing for our fruit, and we’ll continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 environment and its impacts both in New Zealand and abroad as we begin shipping this year’s crop,” says Ms. Ward.

The forecast record crop means that there are a lot of jobs available for picking and packing. Up to 23,000 seasonal workers will be in orchards and packhouses during the April peak. With border closures reducing the number of backpackers and Pacific Islanders from the RSE scheme, the industry will welcome even more New Zealanders to work in the industry.

“The kiwifruit industry offers well-paid jobs across a variety of roles,” says Nikki. “There’s a great team environment and you can have fun while you work and meet people from all around New Zealand.”