The first shipment of what is expected to be a record season of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit is now en route to Tokyo and Busan.
The fruit is aboard the MV Kakariki, the second of three new specialised reefer vessels built by Fresh Carriers to ship New Zealand-grown kiwifruit to Zespri’s Asian markets, with the ship expected to complete its maiden voyage in early April.
Alastair Hulbert, Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer, says MV Kakariki is the first of 57 planned charter reefer vessels under Zespri’s shipping programme this season, up from the 49 charter vessels used last season.
This season will see five sailings to North Europe, 12 to the Mediterranean and 40 to Zespri’s Asian markets. Zespri also expects to send around 18,000 containers of kiwifruit.
“We’re expecting to supply around 177 million trays of kiwifruit this season, or approximately 700,000 tonnes, which will be a record-breaking crop of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit,” says Mr Hulbert.
“Our latest forecasts indicate we could potentially reach 100 million trays of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit this season which would be a significant milestone for the industry and reflects the growing popularity of the variety since its commercialisation 10 years ago.
“We’re also excited to be providing consumers in China with their first opportunity to try Zespri Red Kiwifruit.”
The red variety will be available in New Zealand stores shortly, with the first shipments scheduled to arrive in Singapore, Japan and China in early April.
With this season’s harvest now underway across all growing regions in New Zealand, Mr Hulbert says the wider kiwifruit industry is again working hard to ensure it can safely pick, pack and ship another delicious crop of Zespri Kiwifruit.
“There has been a tremendous effort from everyone in the kiwifruit industry to respond to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 and our focus continues to be on safely delivering another great-tasting crop,” says Mr Hulbert.
“We’ll again be embracing enhanced hygiene and safety protocols throughout the supply chain to make sure consumers in our markets around the world can still enjoy our fresh and healthy fruit.”
Mr Hulbert confirmed that while Zespri is closely monitoring the global shipping situation, it is well placed to mitigate any risks associated with port and container congestion.
“This season we’ve increased the number of charter vessels we’re using, providing an additional 47,500 pallets of reefer capacity.
“The use of our reefer vessels, in combination with our refrigerated containers, is providing extra flexibility on when we ship our fruit.
“As we start the delivery of this season’s New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, we’ll continue to work closely with our long-term port and shipping partners to ensure our fruit is reaching consumers in premium condition,” says Mr Hulbert.