Zespri Last charter vessel

Final Zespri Kiwifruit Charter Vessel Departs

Media Statement

11 Nov 2022

Zespri’s last charter vessel carrying some of the final volumes of this season’s New Zealand kiwifruit crop has now departed the Port of Tauranga, bound for Tokyo and Kobe in Japan.

Around 158 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and 2,231 tonnes of Zespri Green Kiwifruit is onboard the charter reefer vessel MV Kowhai and is expected to reach Tokyo by the end of this month, with the season’s final container shipments scheduled to conclude over the coming weeks. In total, Zespri has used four charter vessels to Northern Europe, eight to the Mediterranean, four to North America’s West Coast and forty-one to Asia, along with almost 17,000 refrigerated containers to ship more than 160 million trays of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit this season.

Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer Alastair Hulbert says that there had been a huge effort right across the industry and supply chain to ensure fruit could get to market this season given the headwinds experienced in 2022.

“This has been a really challenging season given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 across the global supply chain, as well as the need to manage our fruit quality.  

“We’ve faced significant shipping congestion and container shortages at a number of international ports, and we’ve been fortunate that our longstanding partnerships and charter vessels have allowed us to avoid much of this congestion.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the support we’ve received from all of our partners and our industry colleagues, and look forward to shipping the last of this season’s New Zealand crop to our customers over the next couple of weeks.”

Mr Hulbert noted the establishment of a new Port service in China, along with a new direct shipping route to North America, were critical operational changes that Zespri had implemented this year.

“We were fortunate to have made arrangements to be able to ship our fruit to a second port in Taizhou this year, which is around 400km south of Shanghai, allowing us to continue to supply local customers with fruit and avoid the lockdowns in Shanghai.

“We also established a new direct shipping service to the West Coast of North America this season as part of a joint venture initiative with T&G Global and Bostock New Zealand, helping reduce transport times considerably to what is an increasingly important market for Zespri”, Mr Hulbert says.

With the final volumes of the New Zealand kiwifruit crop set to depart over the coming weeks, Mr Hulbert says Zespri is transitioning to fruit from its Northern Hemisphere partners in Italy, France, Greece, Korea and Japan.

“We know that there’s strong demand for our fruit and our Northern Hemisphere supply plays a critical role in being able to meet the needs of our customers and consumers when our New Zealand-grown fruit is unavailable.

“This year we’re excited to be launching a new shipping service in partnership with Cool Carriers, using a charter vessel – the Baltic Performer - to take fruit from our Italian suppliers directly to our customers in Shanghai.

Mr Hulbert confirmed that work was already well underway on planning next season’s shipping schedule, where Zespri would again be using a mix of charter vessels and container services.