The kiwifruit industry has had its strongest season yet, with record sales and the highest-ever total grower returns.
Revenue is up 22 percent to $1.143 billion, and sales are up 21 percent from the previous season to 131.6 million trays.
Growers were given the news at Zespri's annual meeting held in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.
- Total sales revenue for the season grew to a record high of $1.9 billion, up 22-percent from the previous season.
- The total fruit and service payment to growers grew 22 percent on the previous season to $1.143 billion, with an average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758.00.
- There were sales of 131.6 million trays in the 2015/16 season. This included 117 million trays of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit and 14.5 million trays of non-New Zealand kiwifruit.
- Zespri's corporate net profit after tax increased by $1.2 million to $35.8 million, with a final full-year dividend of 24 cents per share.
The kiwifruit marketer's chief executive Lain Jager said growth has been particularly strong with the green variety, with the yield rising to 11,000 trays, up from 9000 the previous season.
He said the recovery of Zespri's Gold variety after the impact of PSA disease was also driving confidence in the sector.
"We are back at 30 million trays for the 2015/16 season with Gold," he said.
"That is really supporting confidence and we have a real sense of excitment."
Other highlights of the season:
- The record volume of SunGold of 27.5 million trays (from total New Zealand gold volume of 32.6 million trays) earning an average return for the gold pool of $8.21 per tray.
- The record per hectare Green return of $56,673 (up from $53,884 last year) driven by a reduced per-tray return of $5.13 (down from $6.01 last year) and very strong average orchard yields of 11,048 trays a hectare, up from 8,972 trays per hectare in 2014/15.
- Continued investment in Zespri's Northern Hemisphere production to grow SunGold supply alongside the growth in NZ volumes.
- Volumes of 2.3 million trays of SunGold were sold from a total gold Zespri Global Supply (ZGS) volume of 3.6 million trays, with forecast total ZGS gold sales of over 6 million trays expected next season.
Mr Jager said the company was growing by about 22 percent a year, but he was not sure it could be sustained.
"My view would be that's probably at the top end. We are looking at sustainable growth somewhere in the 7 to 10 percent a year range."
August forecast for 2016/17 season:
- Green $4.21 per tray
- Organic Green $6.25 per tray
- Gold $8.27 per tray
- Green14 $5.12 per tray
He said the high levels of growth were expected to plateau over the next few years.
"That will be more comfortable for us from a market development perspective and just support sustainable returns for New Zealand kiwifruit growers."