Kiwifruit marketer Zespri says its annual operating revenue has passed $3 billion for the first time.

The result, from global sales and licence release revenue, reflected strong international demand with 167.2 million trays of kiwifruit sold in the 2018-2019 season, up 21 per cent on the previous season.

Revenue was up 26 per cent on the previous year.

Total fruit and service payments, including loyalty premiums, to New Zealand growers increased 24 per cent to $1.8 billion, while average orchard gate returns to growers were up 6 per cent to $63,622 per hectare for green fruit and by 28 per cent to $145,991/h for SunGold fruit, the company said.


Green organic fruit orchard gate returns climbed 40 per cent to $73,350 and by 14 per cent to $44,549/ha for sweet green.

Net profit after tax increased to nudge $180m, up from $101.8m in 2017-2018.

Npat was boosted by revenue from the ongoing Sungold licence release programme and increased revenue from new cultivar royalties.

This season's round of licence releases, the second in a 5 year programme of releasing 700ha of Sungold conventional fruit and 50ha of Sungold organic, generated gross revenue of $192.6m.

Zespri charges a royalty of 3 per cent to licensed growers which is split between the company and Plant & Food Research.

The total dividend per share for the 2018-2019 financial year is expected to be 92c compared to 50c per share the previous season.

The dividend figures take into account the impact of a targeted share issue/buyback and three-for-two share split transactions during the financial year, aimed at better aligning the ownership of shares with growers.