Tuesday, 01 March 2022 09:25

Good jobs on offer as kiwifruit sector pivots

Written by  Peter Burke
NZKGI chief executive Colin Bond says despite challenges there is plenty of evidence to show that the NZ kiwifruit industry is in good shape. NZKGI chief executive Colin Bond says despite challenges there is plenty of evidence to show that the NZ kiwifruit industry is in good shape.

NZKGI chief executive Colin Bond believes the NZ kiwifruit sector has a good proposition to offer employees, with both inside and outdoor work and pay rates that are good relative to the primary sector.

But he says in the Covid environment, people are increasingly hesitant to move to where there is work.

Bond says the labour situation varies in the industry with larger growers being able to employ more permanent staff, which is an advantage to them.

However, he says some smaller growers are unable to do this and have to rely on contractors.

"The CPI tells you wage rates and inflation are going up and demand for people is exceeding supply and this plays out in increasing labour costs," Bond told Hort News. "Over the last three years, we have seen wages rates go up by between 7% and 10% and that is definitely having an effect on growers' bottom lines."

He says the other factors that impact the bottom line are rising freight costs and other orchard consumables.

Despite all the challenges that Covid has thrown up, Bond says there is plenty of evidence to show that the industry is in good shape. He points to the competitive demand for new licences by people wanting to plant kiwifruit.

Bond says the industry has coped with challenges in the past - such as PSA - and that it comes together in a crisis and has a shared process.

"There is a lot of pride in the sector and product we produce. Globally, the long term future for kiwifruit remains really bright and we need to remind growers about that," he adds.

"It has just got a short term challenge but once we get through it, the future is bright. My message to growers is that there is a lot to be positive about, but we are going to need all hands on deck to pick the 2022 crop."

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