The quality of the Gisborne region navel orange crop is said to be excellent, but Covid challenges have made for a tough 2021 season for citrus exports.
First Fresh NZ managing director Ian Albers: “Right now, we are seeing the tail end of the Washington navel crop coming in for packing to be followed by late navel varieties. The eating quality of Gisborne navels has been superb this year ... and this has resulted in a really positive response from consumers around the country.”
On the whole, it had been “a mixed bag” of a year to date, he said. “The season started with Satsuma mandarins and with good demand and stable supply, growers were rewarded for good quality fruit with some of the best returns in recent seasons. However, returns need to increase as on-orchard direct and indirect costs have also increased significantly, so we need to at least keep pace with them in order for growers to remain profitable. Labor supply through the winter has been tight and growers have needed to be well organized to ensure labor was available when needed.”
Albers continued: “On the export front, it's been a tough year, thanks largely to a severely-disrupted supply chain and stubbornly-strong Kiwi dollar. Way tougher is how I would describe it. Shipping costs increased, however, it was the departure delays, extended transit times and port congestion at the other end that really challenged us, and it just didn't get any better all season.”