The new Kiwi boom


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Kiwifruit volumes are rocketing to record levels although returns per tray are forecast to fall from previous seasons.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager said it was a classic case of supply and demand. Following the Psa outbreak, volumes had fallen and as a result prices per tray had risen. In the 2014-15 season, total Zespri sales were 118 million trays. The best season before then was 2011-12 when 113m were sold. However forecast prices per tray have risen since May when the first forecasts were made. Last season a tray of the Gold3 variety was worth $9.80, the year before $12.90, but this season it is forecast to return a maximum of $7.90. The value of a green tray last season was $6.01; this season a tray of green is forecast to fetch $5.50. Gold volumes are set to soar from 18.7m trays in 2014-15 to about 30m trays in 2015-16 and over 60m trays by 2019-20. Zespri sales for 2014-15 were $1.57 billion, up 16 per cent on the year before, the company’s annual general meeting heard today.

Export returns were up 18 per cent on the previous year at $1.086bn

Jager said the figures were presented to the Zespri AGM in Tauranga, attended by about 350 growers. In previous years more than 500 turned out.”It was a quieter meeting than usual; perhaps the reason for that was the fact the 2014 season was a strong one with very good yields this year, combining to create a positive sentiment in the industry,” Jager said. There were no contested director elections, and “business as usual” resolutions, Jager said. Zespri’s net profit after tax doubled from $17.2 million in 2013-14 to $34.6m in 2014-15. This reflected an exceptional one-off factor of $19.6m of unpaid revenue from new cultivar licences from previous years (before taxation and fair value adjustment). Excluding this figure, Zespri’s normalised profit would have been $21.5m. Jager said the Serious Fraud Investigation into Zespri’s double invoicing problems was continuing, with legal costs to date of $4.9m, with a further $1.4m provisioned for in the 2014-15 accounts. The issue resulted in the jailing of its then major importer Liu Xiongjie – known as “Big Liu” – and a multimillion-dollar fine and penalties for the company in China.

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