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Zespri adjusts to labor shortages

Zespri is creating major changes in its systems to deal with an expected shortage of 6,500 workers to pick this season's kiwifruit crop. According to Chief executive Dan Mathieson, the shortfall in workers is 2,000 more than a year ago, due to the pandemic. The forecasts is based on the reduced numbers of backpacker in the country, which normally make up about a quarter of the total workforce.

"We are also dealing with a situation with a larger crop as more orchards come into full production. With this and the lack of workers there is a risk to our ability to fully deliver the season," he told Rural News. "With our ambitious growth targets, we need approximately 1000 additional workers every year for the next five years."

Mathieson says that in order to pick and pack this season's crop, Zespri has had to make significant 'operational' changes. These include a plan to try streamline the process and reduce the labour input required. This involves bringing forward additional volumes of SunGold kiwifruit ahead of demand. There will also be a shift towards greater bulk packaging, which according to chief global supply officer, Alastair Hulbert, will create efficiencies and make better use of the availability of capacity and workforce.

Source: ruralnewsgroup.co.nz


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