Kiwifruit Strap

The three largest kiwifruit packhouses in the Bay have pumped $225 million into infrastructure since 2014 in preparation for soaring levels of gold kiwifruit.

Zespri data shows it would release 700ha of G3 SunGold and 50ha of SunGold Organic every year until 2022 - subject to annual review.

The packhouses had also posted record results as the industry as a whole celebrates boom times.

EastPack chief executive Hamish Simson says it packed a record 41.1m trays of kiwifruit in 2018 up 23 per cent on the year before and its operating profit almost doubled from $14.4m from $7.5m over the same timeframes.

Advertisement

Since the recovery of Psa, from 2014 it had invested ''a shade over $120m'' into infrastructure and technology.

Significant investment had gone towards packing, pre-cool, and cool store capacity while in Te Puke it was constructing the first fully automated cool store in the industry with the capacity to store 1.2 million trays, he says.

''The temperature of fruit held in cool storage had progressed in leaps and bounds because if you manage the temperature well, you generate really good results.''

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says in 2018 it packed 31.4m trays of kiwifruit, 23 per cent more than the year before, while net profit after tax was $7.2m up 27 per cent on the year before.

Franks said the company also bought Aongatete Coolstores in the Western Bay for $25m in March and in April it opened a new packhouse in Kerikeri which was part of a $18.6m facility upgrade and investment into Northland.

Seeka had also spent about $100m on infrastructure across its sites since 2014 that included rebuilding one of its grading machines at Oakside and massively increasing its cool store capabilities.

''Effectively we are getting ahead of the crop, but it's a horticulture game and not without risk we are always going to be subject to seasonal and market fluctuations.''

''We are reasonably comfortable about the future, we know the risks but we are more than just kiwifruit ... that gives us some diversity.''

Trevelyan's Pack and Cool general manager Stephen Butler says it has spent about $35 million on infrastructure since Psa. Photo / George Novak
Trevelyan's Pack and Cool general manager Stephen Butler says it has spent about $35 million on infrastructure since Psa. Photo / George Novak

Trevelyan's Pack and Cool general manager Stephen Butler said it had spent about $35m on new infrastructure since Psa and it would pack more gold kiwifruit than green this year.

He said the speed G3 came back following Psa was remarkable and with Zespri continuing to release licences ''the impact of that is still two to three years off''.

''As a whole industry during Psa, we had to cope with low volumes and no profitability for two years. But we could all see what was coming in the future which put pressure on capital and everyone had to invest in infrastructure.''

EastPack chief executive Hamish Simson says it has spent more than $120 million on infrastructure since 2014. Photo / Andrew Warner
EastPack chief executive Hamish Simson says it has spent more than $120 million on infrastructure since 2014. Photo / Andrew Warner

This year, Butler estimated Trevelyan's would pack eight million trays of G3 and organic gold alongside about 6.8 million trays of class one green compared to eight million green and 6.7 gold kiwifruit trays in 2018.