California grows more than 95 percent of all kiwifruit grown in the US. A total of 170 farmers grow 3,600 acres in the Northern part as well as the Southern part of the state. “We just released our first industry wide crop estimate report and are estimating the total crop to be 8 million 7-pound trays this year,” says Nick Matteis with the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee. This number is a significant increase from the 6 million trays that were harvested in 2015. “Last year, some areas were affected by drought and this year, water availability was better, which partly causes production to be higher,” said Matteis. Fruit sizes have improved as well. “More than 60 percent of this year’s crop fits in the 23-33 size range, which is considered large size fruit.”
New varieties are sweeter and larger
The crop report covers the green Hayward variety, which is the main variety. California grows some new gold varieties as well as other green varieties, but volumes are limited and excluded from the report. According to Matteis, production of these new varieties is estimated to be 200,000 7-pound trays, or 2.5 percent of total kiwi production. Gold varieties are being grown in response to consumer demand from Asia. “South Asian markets enjoy gold fruit because of its sweeter flavor profile. Also, one of the new green varieties has a higher brix level and a larger size profile than the Hayward variety. It is exciting to see how the new varieties will work out,” declared Matteis.
Available October through May
Harvest of California kiwi fruit usually starts late September with the fruit being available in the stores in the first or second week of October. Harvest will continue through Thanksgiving and California kiwifruit will be marketed until April or May as it keeps well in cold storage. About 75 percent of California kiwi fruit is sold in the domestic market and the remainder is exported to Canada, Mexico and Asia. The top three destinations in Asia are Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
Packaged containers gain market share
“There is a constant uptick of the percentage of the crop that goes into packaging. Bulk is still the dominant pack style, but 1, 2, 3 and 4 lb. containers are becoming increasingly popular. This change is driven by larger retail chains,” shared Matteis. Kiwis are grown conventionally as well as organically with the organic market having a share of 12 percent.
For more information:
Kiwifruit Administrative Committee