Gold kiwifruit exports halved

By Carmen Hall

Gold kiwifruit export volumes have dropped more than 50 per cent - but the industry is confident it will bounce back.

In 2010/11 it exported 30 million trays of gold compared to 13 million this year.

Zespri general manager of grower and government relations Simon Limmer said the impacts of Psa had been significant but there was a path to recovery.

"I guess what we can say over the last couple of years is the market demand has remained very strong.

"There is still incredible opportunity for our product globally despite challenging economic conditions and an unfavourable exchange rate.

"Grower returns have continued to improve over the last few years so that is a positive and that is why there is still an incentive to keep working with our objectives, prior to Psa."

Zespri had high expectations before the outbreak.

It aimed to double its volume from 100 million trays to 200 million trays and treble its value.

The goals remained but the time frames had shifted.

Mr Limmer said the acid test would be over the next year as 70 per cent of Hort 16A had been cut and grafted to Gold 3 in the past 18 months.

"We do our crop estimate for next season in spring so it is going to be a really important moment for the industry to see if we are on the right track. Once we confirm that it will be how quickly can we recover that 30 million trays and beyond because we have the potential to be producing much greater volumes as G3 yields more fruit."

Last week, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the kiwifruit industry would emerge stronger as a result of Psa and it had invested wisely in science to get back on its feet.

New Zealand was leading the way in terms of research and development with the Kiwifruit Vine Health website and extensive breeding programmes.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Association president Neil Trebilco said when times were tough growers learned from it.

"I don't see any reason that that won't be the case we will be stronger the only question will be the time line.""

"Inevitably New Zealand is most likely going to find the answer to Psa so the rest of the world is looking for help ... that's an indication of how much work we have put into this in a short amount of time."


- Bay of Plenty Times

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