29 Sep 2011

Kiwifruit growers hit by lower prices

2:23 pm on 29 September 2011

The kiwifruit marketer, Zespri, says lower projected grower returns are due to a larger crop and weaker world demand.

The latest forecast figures from Zespri show green kiwifruit returns for the 2011-12 season will be down by 35 cents a tray.

Gold kiwifruit will drop $1.06 a tray and organic green kiwifruit payments by 41 cents.

Zespri's grower and government relations manager, Simon Limmer, says the timing and volume of the crop is one of the main reasons for the price drop.

Mr Limmer says there is still a large amount of kiwifruit to sell in the current season because it has been an unusually large crop this year, particularly of gold kiwifruit, and it was also a late start to the season.

He says overseas markets are also facing difficulties.

Mr Limmer says Europe takes about 50% of volume and the markets there are still challenged and Japan, the most important market, is still affected because of the March tsunami and earthquake.

He says all of that, on the back of a strong New Zealand dollar, means it has been "a bit of a perfect storm" for Zespri this year.

Meanwhile, growers who have had to remove vines infected with PSA-V and signed contracts with Kiwifruit Vine Health are being compensated.

Green kiwifruit growers who have cut out vines are being paid up to $65,000 a hectare over three years, with Gold growers receiving up to $50,000 a hectare over two years.

The second biggest post-harvest operator, Eastpack, says it is also doing its bit to help growers.

Chief executive Tony Hawken says the company is reducing packing charges for shareholders to help offset the effects of both PSA and the reduced returns on fruit.