The last of this year’s crop of Zespri Kiwifruit has departed Port of Tauranga, concluding another strong but challenging season of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit.
The final 1,800 tonnes of Zespri Green Kiwifruit are on board MV Kakariki which will unload in Tokyo and Kobe in early December, with the final refrigerated containers bound for Hong Kong departing in the coming days.
Chief Global Supply Officer Alastair Hulbert says the disruption to global shipping networks has seen Zespri increase its reliance on chartered reefer vessels this season, with 66 used this year compared with 49 last year. Around 17,000 refrigerated containers have also been used to safely deliver over 177 million trays (or around 620,000 tonnes) of class 1 fruit to Zespri’s global customers and consumers during a season affected yet again by the impacts of COVID-19.
“This has certainly been one of our most difficult seasons to date with both labour shortages and rising costs as well as the additional complexity and uncertainty driven by COVID-19, and the challenges we are facing are likely to remain as we head into the 2022 season,” says Mr Hulbert.
“The pandemic and the associated ongoing global shipping disruptions saw us increase the number of chartered reefer sailings we had planned in order to safely and flexibly ship our fruit to key ports in Asia, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. This allowed us to minimise the impact of the disruption and deliver our season.”
Zespri’s longstanding partnership with Fresh Carriers saw all three new specialised reefer vessels in use this season, with the ships arriving just in time to help provide additional capacity this season. Long-term partner Cool Carriers also supported the season by sending the largest new reefer MV Cool Eagle on its maiden voyage to Europe with a record-breaking shipment of Zespri Kiwifruit.
“The success of this season required a huge effort from frontline staff, the wider industry and the global supply chain. These teams across the supply chain have worked hard to ship more kiwifruit while maintaining enhanced safety protocols and also managing the increased disruption and pressure caused by COVID-19.
“Our partnerships both on and off the water are critical to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry’s success and they were critical in helping us deliver our Vitamin C-rich fruit to the world again this year.”
This season also marked the largest Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit season yet, with just over one hundred million trays delivered for the first time, and around 77 million trays of Green Kiwifruit.
“While this season is now complete, our planning for next year is already well underway. We’re again anticipating global shipping disruption, rising freight costs and a significant labour shortage of an estimated 6500 people and challenges posed by COVID-19 so we’ll continue to work closely with our partners and the broader supply chain in order to meet those challenges and deliver the season, while ensuring we remain focused on supporting our people and communities through the challenge,” says Mr Hulbert.
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