Fruit quality issues could cost New Zealand kiwifruit industry up to NZ$500 million
Ongoing losses because of fruit quality issues might become a NZ$500 million (US$311 million) problem for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry if a solution is not found, industry stakeholders have said.
Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron said in an update to the industry that fruit loss and quality claims were well above historical averages, and he expected it to continue to be a problem in future, according to a report by Stuff.
Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit were particularly affected by quality issues and the impact on returns were significant this season, with a predicted loss of $2.80 per tray for SunGold Kiwifruit, Cameron said.
In addition, a June Zespri forecast for 2022/23 put return per tray prices at $10.25 to $11.75 for this season, but the August forecast was revised to $10.02 per tray returns.
Similarly, the June forecast put return per tray for Zespri green kiwifruit at $6.00 to $7.50. The return was revised to $6.13, in the August forecast.
Beyond the impact on grower returns, these quality challenges were putting significant pressure on the company’s reputation for supplying consistent fruit quality. An industry-wide response was needed to solve the problem, Cameron said.
Furthermore, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond said issues around labor supply had been increasing over the years, and were likely one of the reasons for quality loss.
Although pruning inconsistencies from inexperienced or rushed labor could be responsible for some fruit damage, there were a number of quality issues that could not be attributed to pruning damage, he said.
Bond called for an audit across the entire value chain to see where losses were happening, adding that the industry needed a robust process in place, from orchard to consumer, to find out why losses were occurring.
Losses across the industry could amount to between NZ$400m (US$249 million) and NZ$500m (US$311 million) this year, according to Bond.
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