Bad news for kiwifruit growers ahead of their annual meeting. Picture/file
Export distributor Zespri has confirmed a blow to grower incomes this season as fruit quality issues are well above historical averages and threaten New Zealand’s reputation for producing quality fruit constant.
With Zespri growers
and shareholders due to hold their annual meeting today at Mount Maunganui, Chairman Bruce Cameron, in the first comprehensive forecast of the season, confirmed an earlier warning of the “tremendous challenges” of this season, in particular the problems of fruit quality and lower yields.
“Fruit quality remains the main challenge, especially for Zespri SunGold kiwifruit. Fruit loss and quality claims are well above historical averages and are expected to continue to do so,” Cameron said in an industry update.
“The impact on yields is significant, with the cost of quality to growers projected at $2.80 per tray for SunGold kiwifruit, up from $1.68 last year, pushing that forecast below. of the June range.
Green fruit quality costs were expected to be $1.95 per tray, compared to $1.65 last year.
“Beyond the impact on grower revenues, these quality challenges are putting significant pressure on our reputation for delivering consistent quality fruit among our distribution partners and we will need a company-wide response. the industry to address it,” Cameron added.
The predicted impact will see expected returns per hectare for the month of August for the green drop to $61,144 from the 2021-22 season of $75,494 in March.
The June 2022-23 indicative forecast per hectare for green was $60,000 to $73,000.
Per tray, the new August forecast meant that green pool producers would receive a guideline amount of $6-$7.50. The final return per board last season was $6.35.
News about the $4 billion export industry’s bestseller, SunGold, was also disappointing.
The new August forecast per hectare was $138,495, compared to the June indicative forecast of $141,000 to $161,000 and last season’s March final yield of $176,026.
Per tray, according to the new forecast, SunGold producers were receiving $10.02, compared to $11.51 per tray in March of last year.
Zespri’s June forecast for this season was $10.25 to $11.75 per platter for SunGold.
Cameron said the forecast for Zespri’s 2,700 New Zealand growers also reflected rising costs along the supply chain, particularly transport and post-harvest costs which were putting pressure on farmers’ revenues. producers.
He said Zespri’s teams were working hard in export markets to raise prices and manage spend levels to bolster overall returns, but added: “The headwinds we face are significant.”
Zespri’s after-tax net profit was expected to be between $227 million and $247 million, including licensing revenue, according to the company’s June guidance.
The company has focused heavily on identifying savings opportunities for businesses.
The forecast range for the dividend per hectare for the year ending March 2023 was in line with the June forecast at $1.10-$1.19.
Cameron also provided an update on unauthorized plantings of SunGold (Gold3 variety) in China.
Indications were a total of around 7,000 ha of plantings, less than an estimate in March of around 7,000-8,000 ha in Sichuan Province and an additional 3,000-4,000 ha grafted into other regions in outside of Sichuan.
“This reflects fewer unauthorized Gold3 grafted than expected, as well as difficulties in generating an accurate assessment of the 2021-2022 grafting season earlier this year, given the local Covid-19 restrictions in place in China.”
Cameron said Zespri is monitoring the situation in China closely and will update growers on next steps in the coming months.
Meanwhile, grower voting ends at 5pm today on a plan by Zespri to expand current offshore kiwifruit plantations – excluding China and Chile – to allow the company to meet its 12-month supply strategy.