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Record returns expected for kiwifruit

Zespri has released its final forecast for the 2023-24 season with record per-tray returns forecast for green, organic green, SunGold and RubyRed kiwifruit.

The February forecast has green at a record $9.44 per tray, significantly up from last season’s final Orchard Gate Return of $5.78 per tray.

Forecast SunGold kiwi returns are also at a record level of $12.62 per tray, well above last season’s final OGR of $9.97, while organic SunGold kiwi is at $14.21.

For Zespri RubyRed kiwi, the forecast average per tray return is at a record $26.54, up from last season’s final OGR of $22.27.

CEO Dan Mathieson said the significant effort undertaken by the industry to lift fruit quality and reduce quality costs had been a key factor in the improved returns, along with strong consumer demand for Zespri kiwi.

“The lift we’ve seen in all of our per-tray returns is a real credit to the hard work that’s taken place across the industry and throughout our global supply chain to improve quality," he said. "It’s really helped our markets to maintain strong run rates and maximize value while closing out the season, with all categories other than Organic SunGold kiwi expected to deliver record per-tray returns.

“While we’re always looking to increase the value we’re returning across all of our varieties, it’s particularly pleasing to see a real lift in our green returns," said Mathieson. "That’s been driven by the increased value our teams have secured from lower volumes, especially in Europe, as well as strong market performance in Japan and North America."

The company has also seen strong demand for SunGold kiwi, and RubyRed kiwi has continued to perform strongly, which it expects to see continue as RubyRed becomes the first of this year’s crop to hit stores soon.

With a crop of around 193 million trays expected to be shipped in 2024-25, Mathieson said this forecast was an indicator of the sort of value that could be achieved by providing consistently high-quality fruit.

“We know that when we get good fruit to market it sells and sells well, so continuing to focus on providing our customers and consumers with great kiwi throughout the season will again be our focus," he said. "As well as the focus on per-tray returns, we’re also looking forward to seeing improved per hectare returns for growers in the coming season, with our February crop estimate showing a strong improvement in expected yields.”

At a per-hectare level, forecast OGRs for all categories have increased against the previous forecast. Green and SunGold forecast OGRs are now above final 2022 season returns, despite the season’s lower yields.

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