This season Zespri is expecting a crop of around 155 million trays (or around 600,000 tonnes), the percentage of Zespri SunGold will again be more than that of Zespri green kiwifruit.
"The industry has worked incredibly hard in light of the challenges posed by COVID-19 to safely pick, pack and ship fruit to market. That hard work and a naturally earlier harvest has meant we’re getting our fruit to market earlier this season, with the industry already having shipped 69.1 million trays to the week ending 29 May, more than four million trays ahead of last season and six million trays ahead of the same time in the 2018 season," according to Nele Moorthamers, Zespri Acting General Manager Europe.
"In total, the industry has already loaded 27 of the 50 charter vessels scheduled for this season and around 6,500 containers this year to date. We’re really pleased to say we now have this season’s fruit in markets all around the world."
"We’ve already had a number of our charter ships arrive in Zeebrugge and our southern European ports Tarragona and Vado, and the fruit is already in market, making it an early start to our European season. We’re really encouraged by demand for our fruit in Europe where we’ve seen an increase in the purchasing of fresh produce, mirroring the strong demand signals we’re seeing more broadly in our major markets.
While it’s still early in the season, Nele is encouraged by local European demand for Zespri kiwifruit. The New Zealand green kiwifruit season started mid-May, and there was a lot of demand for the New Zealand supply.
"Like our other global markets, following COVID-19 in Europe we continue to closely monitoring consumer demand as well as the ongoing economic situation which can have a big impact on purchase power in the later part of the season. We concluded our Zespri global supply season recently, and we are happy with both the season we had and the results we achieved. We would like to recognise our suppliers and partners who have continued to supply, pack and sell our delicious fruit across Europe for our consumers, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. Our suppliers and partners continue to play a major part in our successes throughout the year."
Almost all of the New Zealand SunGold kiwifruit has now been packed and is flowing through well to customers and consumers. In spite of everything, Nele says they are a long way ahead of previous seasons and that’s a real testament to the hard work and innovation of the industry which remained committed to getting the crop to consumers around the world.
"While it’s still relatively early in our selling season, the Zespri Board has been providing guidance on likely returns for growers, with the latest guidance reflecting the reduced levels of uncertainty across our supply chain and markets as we’ve moved through the season. It should also be noted that having to work under the COVID-19 regulations has added cost and complexity across the harvest this year," explains Nele.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, particularly with some of the early congestion in container ports in China.
"Zespri’s use of refrigerated chartered reefer ships has given us a high degree of control and certainty over our shipping capacity. We’re continuing to work with our shipping partners to ensure we have a range of options to export this season’s crop, and with our shipping to date continuing to be well ahead of the same point last year, we’re in a good space.
"It’s still reasonably early in the selling season and we’re yet to fully see the impact of COVID-19 on in-store consumer purchasing. However, we know that there’s significant consumer demand for fresh, healthy fruit rich in Vitamin C like our kiwifruit. This season’s Zespri’s marketing programmes will feature the new Zespri Brand and our tagline encouraging consumers “to make your healthy irresistible” by choosing Zespri Kiwifruit, with a big focus on promoting kiwifruit’s Vitamin C content. Our campaigns are already receiving very positive feedback through social media, particularly our Kiwi Brothers campaign which continues to trend very highly and will be expanded into Europe this season. While several markets have been able to get more shelf space than normal in some channels, we’re also seeing an increase in online demand around the world. It’s more pronounced in Asia than other parts of the world but COVID-19 may mean this channel grows outside Asia too. We’ve adjusted our spend to in home media and increased our online promotions with partners to support the strong demand we’re seeing."