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New Zealand horticulture lays out roadmap for recovery from pandemic

New Zealand horticulture lays out roadmap for recovery from pandemic, © New Zealand’s government
© New Zealand’s government


New Zealand’s horticulture sector has come together with the government to devise a strategy for the country post-Covid. Published on 15 July, the roadmap contains the detailed steps required to accelerate the recovery. Antony Heywood, chief executive of Vegetables New Zealand, expressed his optimism with the collaboration, given that the wealth of expertise in the horticulture industry is often compromised by a lack of government insight into and understanding of the industry.

The strategy includes aspects relating to trade and market access; labour, capability and skills; climate change and natural resources; improved and sustainable production systems; telling the horticulture story; partnership with Maori; technology and innovation; diversity; big data and removing barriers to growth and success.

Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, said, “The success of this new level of cooperation led to the conclusion that it would be great if we all continued to work together to develop a strategy combining industry and government expertise to ensure that horticulture is able to maximise its contribution to New Zealand’s post-Covid recovery. The outcome we are all looking for is growth, jobs and regional economic prosperity, within the context of the broader recovery.”

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SunGold licenses in great demand

SunGold licenses in great demand

Demand among New Zealand producers to produce SunGold kiwifruit continues to surge. Farmers Weekly reports that once again, the annual offering of 700ha of new licences for producing SunGold was oversubscribed, with bids totalling 1,660ha, reflecting the ongoing optimism among growers about SunGold’s value and prospects. At NZ$400,000/ha, SunGold is the most valuable fruit license, with the next being Envy apples at around $100,000/ha. Licence income has now become an integral part of Zespri’s non-fruit earnings, accounting for $211 million, or 6% of company revenue.

Large-scale operators appear to be seeking a piece of the action. For the first time, several firms bid for over 20 hectares. Six bidders sought over 20ha, three bid for 15-20ha, and five were in the 5-10ha range. The average size of the successful bids was 2.4ha, representing a continuing gradual rise in average licence area bids from 1.5ha in 2016. Last season SunGold fruit averaged $11.86 a tray or $160,000/ha average return before costs.

Organic SunGold also continued to reflect increasing competition for growing the fruit, with the 50ha allocated averaging $219,600/ha, up from $153,000/ha last year. This year also marked the first time the Red variety was available for commercial orchards, with 150ha allocated for bidders. The round averaged $62,000/ha and again was oversubscribed, in this case by 110ha. This year, Red sales have been limited to domestic supply, and exports to Singapore and Japan.

Zespri announced a profit of $200.8 million for 2019-20.

Photo: Zespri

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Zespri™ presents new communication platform “Taking care of yourself is a pleasure”

Zespri™ presents new communication platform “Taking care of yourself is a pleasure”

Since the brand was founded 22 years ago, Zespri™ has remained true to its original image, but in 2020, the New Zealand kiwi brand decided to make a change to more faithfully reflect its purpose: to contribute to the prosperity of people, communities and the environment by offering the benefits of kiwi, while also continuing to increase its participation in the fresh fruit sector globally.

In the Spanish market, the company has just presented its new global communication platform called “Taking care of yourself is a pleasure”. In the words of Esther Marinas, head of marketing for Zespri ™ in Europe, “The platform represents a great milestone for the brand, and it comes at a key moment to satisfy not only our loyal consumers but also attract new ones.”

“Taking care of yourself is a pleasure” highlights the efforts Zespri™ is making to generate a new connection between nature, the food we get from it, and our well-being. It is a philosophy that encourages everyone to make good health essential and a declaration of intent to break the stereotypes that link ​​taking care of yourself with something boring that requires effort.

The new Zespri™ has also incorporated the “Kiwi Brothers”, the brand’s pets, which have already become a real hit among consumers in Japan. Similarly, a change has been made to its logo, which now features the perfect expression of the bold, fun, unexpected and authentic product that is the Zespri ™ kiwi. The fan in different shades of green is inspired by the recognisable cross-section of its fruit, and the red text illustrates the energy and dynamism of the brand.

Enrique Guio, Zespri Iberian Market Manager, also highlighted the main challenges that the company faces at such a key moment: “This development of our identity also responds to a greater commitment to our purpose and our mission to strengthen the connection between nature, food and people’s well-being, while helping consumers around the world to live healthier. For this, our kiwis are the perfect ally since we guarantee the quality of our product, which is produced and distributed in the best conditions thanks to the Zespri System. A system that guarantees that what our consumers buy is healthy, safe and cultivated with the best possible practices.”

The presentation of the new branding and campaign featured other experts, too: Patricia Ramírez, psychologist, writer and speaker; Mireia Porta, clinical and sports nutritionist; and Teresa Baró, consultant in communication skills, all of whom highlighted that Zespri™ kiwis are a source of enjoyment and support the well-being of all family members so that they can all live better in every way.

The new visual identity has been progressively applied to Zespri ™ packaging and various corporate elements, and can already be found on the market. The new communication campaign has been present in the media since June 1.


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Record exports predicted for New Zealand apples 

Record exports predicted for New Zealand apples 

New Zealand’s 2019/20 apple crop is projected to increase by 2.8% to 593,000 tons (source: FAS/Wellington),  due to an expanded harvested area and a good growing season, despite the impact of COVID-19 on harvesting and packing. The larger crop is set to boost the country’s apple exports for 2019/2020, which are forecast to hit a record 400,000 tons, up 2.3% on 2018/2019. This continues a promising trend, as apple exports in 2018/2019 rose 5.8% from 2017/2018. 

This season, the volume of apples to be processed is expected to rise 5.7% to 119,400 tons due to the larger crop, as well as expectations for a reduced proportion of the crop being export-quality.   Domestic consumption of apples is expected to be up 0.6% to 74,000 tons.

Meanwhile, pear production was up 4.5% to 13,150 tons thanks to favourable growing conditions. Pear exports are forecast to remain unchanged at 4,000 tons.

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T&G Global supports NZ small businesses with apple ship charter to Europe

T&G Global supports NZ small businesses with apple ship charter to Europe

T&G Global has chartered a ship to take about 31 million apples to Antwerp, as a way around potential container shortages and port closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Baltic Spring is currently (Tuesday and Wednesday) loading the last apples from Hawke’s Bay at Napier Port, after a last-ditch packing effort over the weekend.

Craig Betty, Director of Operations for T&G Global says: “In the current climate, it was risky relying completely on our usual shipping programme and we needed to do everything possible to support our growers and get their fruit to markets in Europe. So, we pulled out all the stops. We have 5,400 pallets going on the Baltic Spring, most of it is JAZZ, Braeburn and Pink Lady apples.

“The uncertainly in the supply chain due to COVID-19 made us re-think alternatives to ensure customers in Europe receive our produce.

“Looking at what happened in China, there was congestion in ports and in associated feeder ports. As a result, the ports were full, containers weren’t being turned around as fast as normal for re-use, and refrigerated container plugs at the port were also at capacity. The labour force was reduced under lockdown which affected delivery to customers and also reduced shipping sailings over this period.  It was this uncertainty which we wanted to get in front of for our European-bound apples.

“It’s been a huge effort that’s come together over the last six weeks. We’ve had team members from our European and New Zealand business working together, including 13 packhouses in Nelson and Hawke’s Bay. That gives you a good idea about the sheer quantity of apples we’re talking about.

“This weekend, our team at our Hawke’s Bay packhouse at Whakatu were still packing the fruit to go on the ship today and tomorrow. It’s just in time,” said Craig.

The team has worked with packhouses, cool stores, the shipping line, insurers, ports, stevedores and transport partners to make this happen.

“Even though we’ve gone to Level 3 today, the vessel is loading right now under a Level 4 operating structure which the transport company, stevedores and crew must follow. From a T&G perspective, we were very privileged to be able to operate as an essential business under Level 4, and we’re maintaining those same COVID-19 safe work practices throughout Level 3.

“Our charter ship is following on the heels of the loading of a kiwifruit charter vessel, so we’re using all of the same parties to load our vessel, as all the operational mapping has been set in place. 

“And we’re watching it remotely. There’s a live port cam that let the team watch the Nelson load last week and again this week in Napier.”

The ship arrived in Nelson on Thursday, and loaded apples for two days before sailing to Napier to load on Tuesday and Wednesday. The apples will be stored in Belgium before being repacked in the Netherlands and Germany, for sale across Europe.

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Economic crisis pushes New Zealanders into the fields

Economic crisis pushes New Zealanders into the fields


The annual problem faced by New Zealand’s horticulture industry regarding the lack of seasonal labour has actually been eased in recent weeks. The rising unemployment prompted by the coronavirus pandemic is leading to locals looking for employment in agriculture, one of the few essential services allowed to operate in the current lockdown conditions across the country. This comes at a critical point as the harvests of apple, and pear and kiwifruit hit their peaks.

New Zealand’s agriculture minister, Damien O’Connor, underlined the importance of the country’s agricultural sector at a time like this, underlining  that it is “becoming a lifeline for a number of redeployed workers from industries such as tourism, forestry and hospitality.”

According to data from New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers, many firms now have a workforce of up to 90% New Zealanders, compared to the industry average of around 50% last season.


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T&G Global: 2020 apple harvest in full swing

T&G Global: 2020 apple harvest in full swing, © T&G Global
© T&G Global


New Zealand’s 2020 apple harvest is in full swing and T&G Global, one of New Zealand’s largest growers and exporters of apples, is in the midst of picking around 6.5 million cartons of crunchy, delicious apples.

Craig Betty, Director of Operations for T&G Global says the apple crop is shaping up beautifully with great quality, good sized apples.

“New Zealand is home to some of the world’s best apples, including the internationally popular JAZZ™ and Envy™, and this year the crop is looking superb, with a fantastic flavour.

“Across the world consumers look for different attributes in their apples – American and Asian consumers love them big and bright red, and which don’t brown when cut. Kiwi consumers tend to go for apples rich in flavour and colour and are fans of our snack-sized JAZZ™ apples for convenience.

“Our growers across the Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Nelson and Otago are experts at knowing when the time is right to pick each variety of apple to meet consumers’ needs,” says Craig.

Harvesting of Royal Gala apples began in late February and the T&G team, together with a New Zealand-first robotic harvester, are now picking the premium JAZZ™ and Envy™ apples.

While COVID-19 is creating some uncertainty in terms of global trading, T&G Global is continuing to export to most of its 45 international markets.

“Over the past week, the first shipments of JAZZ™ apples have headed to ports in Hong Kong and Malaysia, with further shipments to China, Thailand, Belgium, UK and the Middle East on track to leave over the next few days.

“Across Asia we’ve seen some softening in demand, however orders across most markets remain steady and we’re currently shipping to plan.

“We’re continually monitoring the situation and have alternative sales plans across a range of regions, markets and channels so we can move quickly to mitigate any changes or effects from COVID-19,” says Craig.

“As an Essential Service, T&G has a critical role to play in keeping fresh fruit and vegetables moving through the supply chain to our fellow New Zealanders and consumers around the world. Safety is always our top priority, and we’ve implemented additional COVID-19 safe work practices across our entire business to help keep our people and communities safe.

“To help process the harvest, we’re also actively recruiting for forklift operators, tractor drivers and packhouse workers mainly in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, and glasshouse workers in Auckland, and we encourage anyone interested to get in touch with T&G.”


Source: Press release
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Concerns over how to market bumper New Zealand kiwi crop 

Concerns over how to market bumper New Zealand kiwi crop 


As New Zealand’s kiwi harvest gets underway amidst forecasts of a bumper crop, the country’s sector is now concerned about how markets will be found for the fruit given the current trade disruptions caused by the coronavirus. New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) project there will be 155 million trays of green and golden kiwi this season – up 5.5% on last year’s crop. Zespri estimates it will produce more SunGold than green this season, which will be accompanied by a growing supply of red kiwi. 

Much of the fruit is exported to countries in Asia currently affected by the Coronavirus. In addition to the trade issues, there is currently a seasonal labour shortage (20,000 workers will be needed during the season) and a lack of rain which might still affect the later crops. The first fruit tends to be the gold variety, with the harvest season ending in June. 


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Girona and New Zealand’s apple producers join forces

Girona and New Zealand’s apple producers join forces


Apple producers from Girona (Spain) were in New Zealand from Fevruary 23 to 29 as part of a joint project for the production of fruits in hot climates. The producers of the PGI Poma de Girona visited Hawke’s Bay, in the northeast of New Zealand, to learn about new techniques and new systems of apple production. The expedition consisted of 19 members -among producers, technicians and managers- of the three companies that produce and market the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Poma de Girona (Girona Fruits, de Bordils, Giropoma Costa Brava, de Ullà, and Frutícola Empordà , from Sant Pere Pescador).

Llorenç Frigola, president of Poma de Girona, said, “Every year we organise technical trips and this time we have chosen New Zealand because it is the cathedral of fruit growing, it is the most favourable place in the world and where there is more production per hectare, which can reach up to 150 tons.” One of the other reasons that led Girona growers to choose this destination is because with some of these New Zealand producers they are part of the hot weather hybridisation programme Hot Climate Breeding Programme (HCBP). It is a project for the production of apples in hot climates. The HCBP programme aims to improve apple flavour, texture, colour and adaptation to climate change, and one of the results are the first viable varieties emerging for production in hot weather.

For the president of Poma de Girona, New Zealand has a “very good soil condition, with a lot of organic, fertile matter and a very benign climate. There are practically no hailstorms or frosts and the winters are not cold, this allows the apple tree to have a very long development with a very short winter period with very good conditions. Its apple is very strong and has a lot of colour so that the ultraviolet rays are high.” According to Frigola, “It is clear that each area is different, but there are always actions to put into practice and techniques to experiment in our home. There, they produce a very red, thick and sweet apple that they export to Southeast Asia; Twenty years ago they had smaller, more acidic apples that they sent to the European market but now, they are self-sufficient.”

Another difference Frigola sees is in the market: “It is different because we store and serve apples for 12 months at supermarkets while they produce and make them during the six months they work each year.” Apple producing companies in New Zealand have a very important part of their production in exclusive club-type varieties that only they can produce, “they buy the production rights of these varieties. This trend is also beginning to be important among the companies of Poma de Girona.”

Girona producers’ visit to New Zealand comes after similar trips to Poland and the west coast of the United States in recent years.


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Positive year expected to New Zealand kiwi

Concerns over how to market bumper New Zealand kiwi crop 

With New Zealand’s kiwi harvest due to start soon, and run from early February to early April, a good crop is expected, according to the NZ Kiwiberry Grower Association. Thanks to favourable growing conditions, a good sized and good quality crop is anticipated. Export volume for this season is estimated at 240,000 kg, similar to the last campaign. The fruit is exported worldwide and enjoys great appreciation on the global stage. The main varieties grown in New Zealand are Tahi, Marju Red and Takaka.