More land with easy access to water is high on Zespri's wishlist as the blue chip national kiwifruit export marketer continues its winning streak with record harvests and sales.

Chief executive Dan Mathieson told a media gathering at Fieldays near Hamilton that while the company is on an export roll there were headwinds ahead including biosecurity risks and an acute labour shortage while more land was needed to meet the world's appetite for new Zespri gold fruit variety Sungold.

The industry was particularly focused on the need for water resources as it grows, he said.

The 2018 kiwifruit harvest is drawing to a close with "everything in a box" by June 25, he said.


"The quality is really good and the taste of green (fruit) is the best in four or five years."

Mathieson attributed the bumper harvest to good growing conditions and growers hard work in the orchards, including ensuring fruit was exposed to light.

Export sales of green fruit were to date two million trays ahead of last season, and Sungold sales 10 million trays ahead.

In the orchards, 10 million more trays had been harvested than last year and green fruit trays were likely to surpass this increase.

In total 66m trays of Sungold would be harvested with green fruit in the high 70m, Mathieson said.

"All markets are doing well. A lot more Sungold is going into Europe and another non-traditional market doing well is the USA."

Zespri had committed to plant 700 more hectares of Sungold fruit every year for the next five years, compared to 400ha a year previously, Mathieson said.

While the capital of the kiwifruit industry was the Bay of Plenty, Sungold fruit, which replaced the Hort16A gold variety wiped out by the sector's devastating Psa disease hit several years ago, was doing very well in other regions, he said.


The industry employed 18,000 people currently and by 2030 was tipped to need 29,000.

Skills would be needed at all levels of the industry and Zespri was keen to expand its relationships universities, Mathieson said. It had a good relationship with Massey University but need to foster more.

Interest from potential new industry entrants was strong with Maori groups particularly keen to expand their portfolios beyond dairying and timber.

Zespri's strategy was to be able to offer the "world's best kiwifruit" to markets 12 months of the year through New Zealand-grown fruit and non-New Zealand supply.