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New Zealand sees a drop in SunGold kiwifruit licence values

The latest tender round for SunGold kiwifruit licences in New Zealand has concluded, with a noticeable decrease in auction values compared to the previous year. This year's auction offered 153 hectares for growers transitioning from Green to SunGold under a restricted licence, alongside 104 hectares for unrestricted SunGold planting. The restricted licence initiative aims to distribute opportunities more evenly among growers looking to shift from Green to SunGold varieties.

The unrestricted SunGold licences settled at an average price of $424,000 per hectare, a decline from the previous year's $608,695, not including GST. Despite being oversubscribed by 14 hectares, the starting bid was set at $406,000 per hectare. Meanwhile, the restricted licences averaged $398,000 per hectare, contributing to an estimated $105 million in licence revenue for Zespri this season.

Compared to past allocations, the area available for tender has been reduced by 50%, a decision announced by Zespri last year. However, projections for 2025 and beyond indicate an increase to 350 hectares, with potential expansions to between 350 and 500 hectares annually until 2028.

This downturn in auction prices reflects a broader cooling trend from the peak values of $800,000 per hectare seen two years ago. Zespri's total licence revenue has also seen a reduction from last year's $212 million, which included extensive SunGold and RubyRed licences. The peak revenue was recorded in the 2021/22 financial year at $435 million.

Zespri holds exclusive plant variety rights for the SunGold kiwifruit until September 6, 2039, offering 30 years of protection. This year, no RubyRed licences were released as Zespri focuses on evaluating the fruit's performance, yield, and storage capabilities, particularly its limited shelf life impacting export potential beyond southeast Asia. The board anticipates releasing 100 hectares of RubyRed licences in 2025, with plans for 100 to 300 hectares annually until 2028.

Source: Farmers Weekly

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