Bay News Editor and reporter for NZME.

Bold kiwifruit move a boost for Bay

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The Bay's billion-dollar kiwifruit industry is set to expand with Zespri releasing the additional licence for 400 hectares of SunGold this year. The move is being described as bold and exciting by business leaders.

"Enormous" spinoffs were also expected for the region both economically and in the job sector.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride said dependant on the product's performance and future global demand " an additional 400 hectares of SunGold licence would be released in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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"At today's returns for SunGold, should the full 1600 hectares be released it will mean more than $200 million in export revenue to New Zealand. Even before the decision to release more licence was made SunGold was on track to earn $1 billion in sales revenue by 2017.

SunGold has generated tremendous excitement across our markets.

For example, last year SunGold was voted by fruit consumers in Spain and Germany as the best new fruit product on the market.

Lain Jager, chief executive

"The SunGold variety was at the cornerstone of the industry's recovery from Psa. It is clear now that not only has the variety carried the industry through the Psa crisis, it is the engine that will drive our industry's future growth."

Chief executive Lain Jager said the confidence in the variety came from SunGold's excellent performance across Zespri's 56 country markets over the past two years.

"SunGold has generated tremendous excitement across our markets. For example, last year SunGold was voted by fruit consumers in Spain and Germany as the best new fruit product on the market."

Western Bay of Plenty District mayor Ross Paterson said it was a massive vote of confidence in the industry. "This is a big expansion and it all goes well for the future of the district in economic returns and growth.

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"It will need an injection of orchard establishment work, orchard management, post harvest investment, logistics development and experienced orchard workers and those parts of the industry will be developed. That brings strong economic returns to the kiwifruit industry and to the district which is very exciting and it's fairly bold."

The benefits to the Bay of Plenty sub region would be enormous, Mr Paterson said.

Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby said it was great news and demonstrated "the kiwifruit industry is not only resilient but also forward thinking and looking to certainly reduce the risk of not being adaptable to market pace".

There will be benefits for everyone connected with kiwifruit. Putting more money into the pockets of kiwifruit growers can only be good news for Te Puke and the regional economy.
Stan Gregec, Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive

"They have not only recovered from Psa they have come out a lot stronger and with a bright future."

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said it would mean "more jobs and more investment in an industry that is producing the goods".

"There will be benefits for everyone connected with kiwifruit. Putting more money into the pockets of kiwifruit growers can only be good news for Te Puke and the regional economy."

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chairman Doug Brown said the announcement had taken some growers by surprise but had been met with a lot of enthusiasm.

"On Zespri's roadshow a lot of people were interested and looking for a release but thought it would be further down the track. Some are pleasantly surprised while there will be the odd grower that will be concerned."

Kiwifruit grower Neil Trebilco said in his view, "it is excellent news and I think that it speaks for the huge potential of the new gold variety." Some growers may be worried the increase in volumes could affect their returns "because possibly it might but I think the effect to growers will be marginal".

Zespri grower relations general manager Dave Courtney said there was a lot of interest from growers in the release including the thinking behind it.

"We had to make a decision you have to balance the future demand and releasing too much and oversupplying the market.

"So we sort of had to sit down and consider and balance up the two sides of the argument and on balance we felt it was prudent to cater for that future demand ... so we want to smooth the supply over time."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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