Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers are reaping the benefits of a booming industry following the introduction of a new variety.

ANZ released a special report on Friday that stated kiwifruit sales rose by $694m from the 2015/16 season to 2016/17.

Tauranga's Aongatete Coolstore managing director, Allan Dawson, said the statistics spoke for themselves.

"It's been a huge growth spurt, and it's really on the back of the new SunGold variety, and we've seen the values of orchards and licences for SunGold skyrocket over this time," Dawson said.


The kiwifruit sector took a big hit when the Psa bacteria ripped through Bay of Plenty orchards in 2010/11. The advent of a new Psa-resistant gold cultivar, Gold3, or SunGold, has been credited with driving a recovery in the sector.

Just before the Psa outbreak, Zespri had luckily come up with two new Kiwifruit varieties - Gold 9 and Gold 3.

Gold 3 had enough tolerance of the virus to be able to thrive.

Dan Mathieson (pictured) was appointed chief executive of Zespri near the end of last year. Photo/File
Dan Mathieson (pictured) was appointed chief executive of Zespri near the end of last year. Photo/File

In the Bay of Plenty, in some cases, orchard valuations have doubled from pre-Psa levels. Green orchards are currently valued in the $300,000-$450,000 per hectare range and SunGold orchards in the $700,000-$1 million per hectare range.

"Clearly it's been successful across the board. SunGold is a variety that is tolerant to Psa and produces well. it's relatively easy to grow, and we've been obtaining a premium for it in the market, so the financial returns have been really good," Dawson said.

ANZ commercial and agribusiness managing director Mark Hiddleston said the success of the kiwifruit sector was remarkable.

"It has continued to invest in new varieties while staying connected to consumer demand and has worked hard to keep international markets alive," he said.

Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney said the company's goal was to more than double global sales to $4.5 billion by 2025, while maintaining strong returns to New Zealand growers.


"Achieving this ambitious growth means an additional 6,500ha of SunGold in NZ and around 8,000ha offshore, as well as large-scale investment in postharvest infrastructure, as outlined in ANZ's report," Courtney said.

Courtney acknowledged there were risks to the growth.

"These include markets not developing as quickly as planned, market access issues, taste performance, significant supply fluctuations, non-tariff barriers and biosecurity incursions," he said.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Nikki Johnson said the impact of Psa-V on the kiwifruit industry was significant and, at the time, the path forward was unclear.

"The recovery has been better than expected, with the arrival of the highly successful SunGold variety and the stability of the Hayward variety providing both the opportunity to recover and expand the industry," she said.