More than $108 million has been pumped into kiwifruit cool stores and infrastructure in the Western Bay and 160 new growers have joined the ranks as the industry continues to break records.

The news comes hard on the heels of Zespri's forecast that sales for the 2018/19 season could reach $2.9 billion and SunGold estimates show volumes may potentially increase to 79 million trays, an increase of 14 million trays from last season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc has also launched an industry-wide job campaign last month in the lead up to the 2019 harvest and estimated it would need 18,000 seasonal workers.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the organisation's growth demonstrated the progress it was making towards reaching its goal of $4.5 billion in global sales by 2025.

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Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson. Photo/File
Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson. Photo/File

''Our growth has been led by increasing consumer demand for SunGold which has been a real success for us.''

But green volumes could drop to 75 million trays this season down from 79 million last season.

''These remain estimates and we know the dry weather most growing regions have experienced has created some uncertainty regarding fruit sizing which may see these estimates come back a bit.''

Zespri exports to more than 50 markets; Japan and China the two largest.

Figures from Priority One showed since January 2014, Tauranga City Council issued 16 kiwifruit-related consents valued at $35.6m while the Western Bay District Council issued 111 consents valued at $72.3m.

Priority One chief operating officer Greg Simmonds said kiwifruit was New Zealand's largest horticultural export and industry players were investing heavily across all areas to meet increasing global demand.

More than 80 per cent of New Zealand's kiwifruit is grown in the Bay of Plenty, principally Katikati, Te Puke, Tauranga and Opotiki, Simmonds said.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said investment in infrastructure was a key indicator of economic activity.

''It demonstrates the increasing sophistication and value generated by the kiwifruit industry in our region.''

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New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Nikki Johnson said the organisation was taking a proactive approach to the labour shortage.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Nikki Johnson. Photo / File
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Nikki Johnson. Photo / File

''Although we are confident the campaign will fill a large number of seasonal labour roles, it is too early to determine if all roles will be filled. The industry still has the option to ask the government to declare a labour shortage if required, and this cannot be done until picking and packing has started and there is evidence of a critical lack of labour.

''Last year's harvest was a bumper crop, and we are expecting this years' harvest to be even larger.''

Since 2017 about 160 new growers had joined the kiwifruit industry nationally, she said.

Meanwhile, Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said the company had spent about $18m at Oakside in Rangiuru retrofitting a new grader as well as adding pre-coolers and cool stores.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks. Photo / File
Seeka chief executive Michael Franks. Photo / File

Last week Seeka also announced it would buy kiwifruit orcharding, packing and cool store business Aongatete Coolstores Limited for $25 million.

Franks said the acquisition was aligned to the company's growth strategy and built on Seeka's kiwifruit foundation.

Trevelyan's Pack and Cool managing director James Trevelyan said in the last two years the company had invested more than $12m into its plant at Te Puke.

Trevelyan's in Te Puke has invested more than $12 million into its facility in the last two years. Photo/File
Trevelyan's in Te Puke has invested more than $12 million into its facility in the last two years. Photo/File

The money was spent on increased cool storage capacity, IT framework and innovation work on how to manage the increasing volumes of G3, he said.