19 Oct 2009

Some of export Jazz apple crop rejected

1:45 pm on 19 October 2009

Apple exporter ENZA says about 20% of early shipments of the Jazz apple variety were removed from supermarket sale because of quality defects.

ENZA, the Turners and Growers subsidiary that owns the variety, says it sold well in Northern hemisphere markets, however lenticel blotch and bitter pit showed up in some of the fruit in early shipments.

About 20% of the apples in those shipments had to be repacked after arrival so substandard fruit did not reach supermarket shelves overseas.

ENZA general manager Snow Hardy says the problem only becomes evident five to six weeks after harvest.

The quality issues were linked to seasonal and climatic conditions in Hawke's Bay this season, he says.

Mr Hardy says the variety is more dificult to grow than some others, but he's confident growers will overcome that challenge as they become more familiar with it.

ENZA estimates it will be 150,000 to 200,000 cartons down on the expected 1.3 million Jazz crop expected out of New Zealand this year.

While some disillusioned growers are threatening to stop growing the Jazz apple, pipfruit growers' chairman Ian Palmer expects most will persist because of the large amounts they've invested in the new variety.

However, he says growers will have questions for ENZA when it meets them this week.

Mr Palmer says growers want to understand and assess for the coming year, the cost of quality issues, the cost of the exchange rate and the cost of a small decline in market price.

He says the continually strengthening New Zealand dollar means that the return for Jazz, which was fetching an average premium price of more than $30 a box last year, has now fallen to about $20.

Returns for the main commercial apple variety, Braeburn, have been halved.