In the latest forecast from kiwifruit marketer ZESPRI, average fruit and service payments for kiwifruit growers are set to increase by $13.7 million or $0.15 per tray on last season.
ZESPRI’s Director of Corporate and Grower Services, Carol Ward, said: “Market returns this season are up on last year and reflect strong consumer demand for ZESPRI Kiwifruit. However we are still facing challenging market conditions as the global economy emerges from the recession, with Japan and East Asia recovering more quickly than Europe and North America.”
Orchard gate returns for GREEN growers are holding above the $4.00 per tray level and are up by $0.39 on the 2009/10 season. A slower-than-anticipated recovery from recession-level pricing has impacted GREEN ORGANIC returns which are forecast to be down by $0.06 on last year. GOLD returns continue to increase and are forecast to be up by $0.99 on last season, particularly due to strong demand combined with a lower-than anticipated crop volume due to seasonal factors.
Ms Ward said the last vessel of the season is due to depart the Port of Tauranga on Thursday 28 October, destined for Japan. “With approximately 10 percent of the crop yet to sell, the focus is on increasing quality control processes onshore and in the markets to ensure quality remains at a high standard for late-season sales.”
Commenting on foreign exchange impacts, Ms Ward said ZESPRI’s hedging policy, which sets foreign exchange cover in place up to three years prior to season start, had a positive impact on returns. “Had no hedging been in place for this season, average returns could have been up to $0.85 per tray lower than currently forecast,” he said.
“Despite some production and in-market challenges this year, ZESPRI remains focused on driving value back into the GREEN category. We expect some relief for the category over the next few years as GREEN orchards are grafted over to new varieties and productivity improves.
“In addition, we’ve got some exciting prospects ahead as we learn more about the new varieties commercialised this year, and advance further varieties through our world-leading breeding programme. We’re also strongly focused on research and initiatives to improve consumer understanding of the health benefits of ZESPRI Kiwifruit and expect to announce some exciting news on this front in the next few months.”