Movement on imported kiwi fruit is picking up as countries move in and out of the market.
Celso Paganini with Bella Vita Foods in Harrison, NY says kiwi supplies are largely currently coming from Italy, whose production is slightly down compared to last year thanks in part to a dry summer. “So, we’re feeling a bit of a shortage but it’s not as bad as we thought it would be,” he says. Italy began shipping its first variety, the Green light, in early September, though it arrived in the U.S. in the last 10 days of that month. The country will continue shipping until April, possibly early May when it exits the market as Chile comes in heavier with fruit.
Chile finished with its supplies slightly earlier this year given its crop was down somewhat as well.
Meanwhile Greek product will soon arrive in the U.S. as well. “Greece usually starts later than Italy—they start now packing fruit that will arrive here probably in the first half of December,” Paganini says, noting Greece also wraps up around the same time, if not earlier, as Italy.
European packing houses to stay open?
All of these supplies from Europe though are pending on one significant factor. “We’re hoping the packing houses won’t shut down in Europe because of COVID-19. We keep some inventory here in the U.S. just to make sure we’re covered in case there’s a supply interruption,” Paganini says.
At the same time, demand for kiwis have been slower. “Demand wasn’t great in October because retailers don’t dedicate too much shelf space to kiwi fruit when it’s expensive,” Paganini says. He notes that the shorter supplies led to higher pricing on Chilean kiwis and Italian kiwis also saw higher pricing, particularly in early October. “The sales were slow but now they’re starting to pick up,” he adds.
That said, Thanksgiving and into the holiday season isn’t necessarily a time for strong movement on kiwis. “In January, some retailers do promotions connected to healthy eating,” Paganini says. “But kiwi sells really well between February and April when the BRIX are higher. Also, when people feel spring, they like to eat more fruit.”
As for pricing on kiwis, they’re currently low to mid-$20s FOB on large fruit. “The market came down a little bit from early October when it was in the high $20s,” Paganini says. “I think pricing will stay here and settle for the whole season.”
That season also includes some variety development—while gold kiwis have wrapped up for the season, Paganini notes that Soreli kiwis are on the way as are kiwis with red pulp. Those, coming from Italy, will likely arrive later this month and be sold at a premium.