The New Zealand kiwifruit export industry continues to hit numbers out of the park with global marketer Zespri reporting record financial results for the 2020-2021 season.
Total global operating revenue increased by 16 per cent to $3.89 billion, with Zespri's net profit after tax at $290.5m, close to $90m higher than the previous season.
Total global revenue from fruit sales was $3.58b, up 14 per cent on the previous year, with global sales volumes 10 per cent higher at 181.5m trays.
Direct returns to the New Zealand industry increased by 15 per cent to $2.25b, despite the challenges of Covid-19, said the grower-owned exporter.
Those earnings are spread wider than the kiwifruit growing heartland Bay of Plenty with Northland, Nelson, Gisborne and the Waikato also cashing in.
Zespri said returns were strong on both a per tray and per hectare basis.
The average return for Zespri Green per tray increased to $7.51, with the average return per hectare at $76,722.
The average return for bestseller Zespri SunGold rose to $12.46 per tray and a record average $177,846/h. Organic SunGold fetched $15.36 per tray and the average return per hectare was $158,599.
Zespri organic green fruit reached an average return per tray of $10.53 and an average return of $66,453/ha. Zespri Sweet Green average return numbers were $10.14/tray and $56,853/ha.
Sales of Zespri-branded fruit not grown in New Zealand totalled $472.8m.
The expected dividend was $1.33 per share.
This year's estimated revenue from growing licences is expected to be between $430m and $435m.
The company said strong interest in securing a Zespri growing licence continued this year, with demand exceeding supply in all three fruit variety pools.
Results were 700ha of conventional SunGold, 50ha of organic SunGold and 350ha of Zespri Red licence being released this year. The median price for conventional SunGold was $550,000/ha, up from $400,023 last year. The median price for organic SunGold was $305,000,up from $219,565, and for Red $74,979, up from $62,500.
Zespri does not set the price for licence – growers do through a closed-bid tender process.
Chief executive Dan Mathieson said non-New Zealand supply sales growth was encouraging, producing strong returns to partner growers in Italy, France, Japan and Korea. Orchards outside New Zealand were critical to Zespri's 12-month supply strategy, he said.
With nearly all SunGold fruit from the 2021 harvest in hand and the green harvest in full swing, Zespri was expecting another record crop this year, underpinned by the expansion of SunGold fruit and the new Zespri Red.
However, Mathieson warned of headwinds, including industry capacity constraints, rising costs and getting enough staff to get fruit to the world. Pandemic-related shipping issues and distribution in some markets were also challenges.
They were expected to remain issues in the medium term, he said.
Zespri is wholly-owned by current and former kiwifruit growers. It works with 2800 New Zealand growers and 1500 growers offshore. Around 700 people are employed at its headquarters at Mount Maunganui and throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.