28 May 2013

Record return to kiwifruit growers but net profit down

7:21 pm on 28 May 2013

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri has reported record returns to growers for the year but its net profit has fallen to $7.6 million, a third of last year's profit.

When adjusting for the impacts of funding for the vine-killing disease PSA, profit fell from $16.4 million to $10.7 million.

The results also include the full provision for the court-imposed penalties relating to the China Customs investigation.

Orchard gate returns to growers averaged a record $51,000 per hectare but at the same time orchards have been hurt by the impact of PSA.

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager says the growing demand for green kiwifruit boosted returns for growers.

He says returns for green kiwifruit were up 21% per tray on the season before, as demand kept rising while growers continued to switch to gold kiwifruit.

Mr Jager says the PSA bacterial disease has continued to badly affect gold kiwifruit production , which last year was down 16% to 24 million trays.

Zespri is forecasting similar or stronger returns next year. The Board says it plans to declare a final dividend of 1 cent per share to take full-year dividends paid to 5 cents per share.