Kiwi harvesting has already ended in many regions, while 60% of the produce has been harvested in Lazio with its late varieties.

"Hayward volumes seem lower than expected, even though they were already expected to be lower than 2015. The final data should be -23/28%, depending on the region," explains an operator.

Quality, appearance, parameters and grades vary a lot. "Unfortunately a few regions were penalised by the weather (especially in spring), which caused shape problems and hindered the development of organileptic qualities and grades. Other regions benefited from ideal weather conditions, therefore their fruit is excellent."

"The work carried out by the main producer organisations in Emilia-Romagna to improve fruit quality is making kiwis more popular abroad. Most of the region's companies now separate the fruit with a dry matter content above 16."

The price of medium to small grades is not very different from that of medium to big grades, due to the lack of availability, even though they are not great.

After the awful 2015/16 campaign though, expectations are much higher this year.

Nonetheless, prices are expected to vary (especially during the first part of the campaign) due to batches of inferior quality and/or with a short shelf-life or not suitable for markets/segments of a higher value.

Pressure from competitors, Greece in particular, will be strong especially in central Europe and Scandinavia. Although quantities in Greece appear to be lower than 2015, volumes are still considerable (almost tripled in 7-8 years). The situation should improve from March onward, as Greek produce will no longer be available and shelf-life and quality are among the best ever.

The overseas commercialisation of Italian kiwis has already started, while shipments to Europe will start over the next few days, since some batches reached the required Brix level.

"It will be a long season - exports to Europe will last to mid-June and sales on the domestic market will carry on until late June."