NZ kiwifruit producers can't seem to catch a break from rough weather

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NZ kiwifruit producers can't seem to catch a break from rough weather

Kiwifruit producers in New Zealand are revealing pessimistic projections for this season after assessing damages from cyclone Gabrielle which recently hit the North Island of the country. 

The harvesting period for kiwifruit usually starts in March and goes through May, with fruit available until January.  

Almost every product grown in the country was affected by an unusually rainy summer which caused unprecedented crop damage. 

Rural News from NZ spoke with Colin Bond, chief executive of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI), who indicated that: “Growers have also faced adverse weather effects such as hail, frosts, cyclones and associated flooding in the lead up to harvest that has impacted kiwifruit volumes. 

Combined with a year of poor opening of flower buds which form kiwifruit, this season looks to be an extraordinarily challenging one for growers.”

All these issues have already set season expectations below last year’s 160 million trays exported to markets overseas. 

The weather has added insult to injury to an industry that last year experienced low returns caused by poor fruit quality and rising input costs. Lower volumes mean that producers will offer fewer jobs during the harvest period. 

Earlier this year, Zespri, the world's largest kiwifruit marketer from NZ had already announced a five-year plan to confront fruit quality issues which Zespri Chairman, Bruce Cameroon, said could become a NZ$500 million problem if not addressed properly. 

This year’s weather conditions are forcing producers and exporters to adopt capital expenditure reduction plans, as Seeka Spared chief executive, Michael Frank, told Rural News. 

Zespri’s five-year plan and the way they work with other producers across the country will be important in determining how the industry comes out of these tough economic times.

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