The harvest of Zespri Kiwifruit from Northern Hemisphere orchards is well underway, with total volumes expected to reach more than 19 million trays this season.

Zespri Chief International Production Officer Sheila McCann-Morrison says the increased volumes demonstrate the progress being made on Zespri’s global supply strategy of providing consumers with Zespri Kiwifruit for all twelve months of the year.

“This year’s Northern Hemisphere harvest is expected to exceed 19.1 million trays, which is almost 25 percent up on the 15.4 million trays recorded in 2017/18. This includes close to 10.5 million trays of SunGold compared to 6.3 million trays last year and 8 million trays of Green kiwifruit versus 9 last year. Zespri is looking forward to completing the New Zealand season by the end of the year while transitioning to supply from our Northern Hemisphere locations.

“Growth in our offshore supply allows us to meet increasing consumer demand for our premium quality kiwifruit and ensure that our brand remains top of mind in the three-to-four months of the year when our New Zealand-grown kiwifruit is unavailable. Ultimately, this is trying to meet the needs of our consumers and support sustainable long-term returns for our non-New Zealand and New Zealand-grown crop,” Ms McCann-Morrison says.

Zespri has developed long-term partnerships with non-New Zealand-based growers and suppliers to provide Zespri Kiwifruit in Italy, South Korea, Japan and France. Exports from Italy and France also enable us to serve our consumers in other key markets. All non-New Zealand-grown Kiwifruit must meet Zespri’s stringent quality standards, with quality managed through the Zespri System.

Europe remains Zespri’s most significant source of non-New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, with Italy supplying more than 90 percent of our total volumes and more than 9 million trays of SunGold.

“In addition to expanding our production in current key European locations, particularly in Italy, we are running trials in new growing locations to determine whether we can successfully diversify our supply. We believe this will allow us to mitigate risks like pests and adverse weather events and also bring our supply closer to market,” says Ms McCann-Morrison.

Outside of Europe, Zespri expects to see continued growth in Asia and is focusing on increasing the supply of SunGold in Japan and South Korea to meet strong demand. Zespri also continues to explore the potential for a 12-month supply programme in China. A proof of concept trial in China is nearing completion, working with local partners to assess local Chinese varieties to determine whether we can sustainably grow Zespri-quality fruit. Zespri has also started production trials in Oregon and California in the US, which has become one of Zespri’s most significant new growth markets due to demand for SunGold.

Zespri continues to invest strongly in supporting its partners around the world with technical advice to maximise their returns. Zespri also shares best practice growing techniques, Psa learnings and R&D with grower forums in its offshore production bases.