Harvesting of Zespri kiwifruit from northern hemisphere orchards is well under way, with total volumes expected to reach more than 19 million trays this season.
Zespri Chief International Production Officer Sheila McCann-Morrison said the increased volumes demonstrate the progress being made on Zespri's global supply strategy of providing consumers with Zespri kiwifruit for year round.
"This year's northern hemisphere harvest is expected to exceed 19.1 million trays, which is almost 25 per cent up on the 15.4 million trays recorded in 2017/18.
This includes close to 10.5 million trays of SunGold compared to 6.3 million trays last year and 8 million trays of Green kiwifruit versus 9 last year. Zespri is looking forward to completing the New Zealand season by the end of the year while transitioning to supply from our northern hemisphere locations.
"Growth in our offshore supply allows us to meet increasing consumer demand for our premium quality kiwifruit and ensure that our brand remains top of mind in the three to four months of the year when our New Zealand-grown kiwifruit is unavailable.
Ultimately, this is trying to meet the needs of our consumers and support sustainable long-term returns for our non-New Zealand and New Zealand-grown crop," McCann-Morrison said.
Zespri has developed long-term partnerships with non New Zealand-based growers and suppliers to provide Zespri kiwifruit in Italy, South Korea, Japan and France. All non New Zealand-grown kiwifruit must meet Zespri's stringent quality standards.
Europe remains Zespri's most significant source of non-New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, with Italy supplying more than 90 per cent of total volumes and more than 9 million trays of SunGold.
"In addition to expanding our production in key European locations, particularly in Italy, we are running trials in new growing locations to determine whether we can successfully diversify our supply. We believe this will allow us to mitigate risks like pests and adverse weather events and also bring our supply closer to market," she said.
Zespri expects to see continued growth in Asia and is focusing on increasing supply of SunGold in Japan and South Korea. It is exploring the potential for a 12-month supply programme in China and has also started production trials in Oregon and California in the US.
Zespri also shares best practice growing techniques, Psa learnings and R&D with grower forums in its offshore production bases.