26 May 2017

Zespri more than doubles full-year profit

1:42 pm on 26 May 2017

Zespri has more than doubled its full-year net profit despite a challenging season for green varieties of kiwifruit.

SunGold Kiwifruit

Photo: Zespri

The exporter's profit rose from $35.8 million to $73.7m, driven by the release of another 400 hectares of SunGold licences last year.

The volume of New Zealand kiwifruit exports climbed 18 percent to a record 137.7 million trays.

Zespri chair Peter McBride said it was a mixed season.

"We had a challenging volume in terms of our green supply, but overall we're pleased with the result."

The return per tray of green kiwifruit was $4.36, down from $5.13 per tray in 2015/16, and Mr McBride said they were unsure why yields were down.

"The green yields... We're not sure, some of us think it is technology based and others seasonal. Clearly this our volumes are down again so we're still trying to get our heads around it."

The star performer was the SunGold variety, which had an average per-tray return of $8.64 - up from $8.21 in 2015.

Mr McBride said the wet and stormy autumn has had an impact on kiwifruit growers.

"It's had an impact on maturity and the taste of the fruit, and disruption of the supply chain. Overall we're on track."

The Zespri board was planning on releasing 400 hectares of licences each season until 2020, which Mr McBride said would grow the market strategically.

"We're putting [constraints] around the number of hectares, because we don't want to get ahead of market demand."

The gold variety in particular would spread more into regions such as Gisbourne, Hawke's Bay, Nelson and Northland because it has a wider environmental footprint and had performed well there, Mr McBride said.

The Zespri board has announced a 2017 final dividend of 17 cents per share, to be paid in August, bringing the total dividend to 25 cents a share.