Wednesday, 27 March 2024 10:55

Season's first kiwifruit China bound

Written by  Peter Burke
Some 2500 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit – as well as 15 containers of Zespri RubyRed – will be before customers in China by the end of March. Some 2500 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit – as well as 15 containers of Zespri RubyRed – will be before customers in China by the end of March.

Zespri's first charter shipment of the 2024 New Zealand kiwifruit season is on its way to Shanghai.

The vessel Kowhai carrying 700,000 trays – or around 2500 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit – as well as 15 containers of Zespri RubyRed for customers in China.

Both the Kowhai and the season’s second charter the Solent Star are expected to reach Shanghai by the end of March.

This is the first of 63 charter vessels Zespri expects to use this season to ship around half of the expected 193 million trays – or almost 695,000 tonnes – of Green, SunGold and RubyRed Kiwifruit to more than 50 countries.

That’s up from the 51 charter vessels used last season. The benefits of charter ships is they carry more fruit and provide more certainty by sailing straight to market without calling on other ports en route.

This season’s charter programme using refrigerated reefer vessels with fruit stored in holds in the body of the ship will include three services to Northern Europe, 14 to the Mediterranean, four to North America’s West Coast and 42 to Asia. The remaining volume will be shipped using container services. Zespri chief operating officer Jason Te Brake says, after a positive growing season, the sight of the first ship setting sail for 2024 is always an exciting moment for the industry.

“Every season we look forward to our shipping programme getting underway and delivering our Zespri kiwifruit to our markets around the world and that’s especially true with such a big crop expected this year,” he told Rural News.

“We’ve put a lot of focus on our season planning and how we manage this season’s increase in crop volume that will allow the industry to deliver consistently good quality fruit to our customers and consumers throughout the season.”

Te Brake says a key part of this is starting the season strongly and getting a good source of fruit to customers, so Zespri can capitalise on early sales opportunities and the strong consumer demand for its fruit.

He says Zespri is looking forward to seeing both charter and container ships continue to set sail from the Port of Tauranga to more than 50 markets – including Europe, China, Japan and others over the coming weeks and months.

Te Brake says Zespri is continuing to monitor the global shipping environment and remains confident of its ability to deliver this season’s crop, through its charter and container services programme.

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