15 Nov 2022

Shipping disruption, quality issues challenge kiwifruit exports - Zespri

9:58 am on 15 November 2022
Zespri charter vessel 'MV Kowhai' departs the Port of Tauranga.

Zespri charter vessel 'MV Kowhai' departs the Port of Tauranga. Photo: Supplied / Zespri / Jamie Troughton / Dscribe Media Services

Zespri is looking through every aspect of its supply chain to ensure less export fruit is spoiled next season, the company says.

The company's final charter vessel carrying some of the last of the season's kiwifruit crop left Tauranga for Japan last week.

Zespri chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert said shipping and logistics had been extremely challenging this season.

"We had the overhang of Covid, so there was continued port disruption around the world especially with the container lines through South East Asia and the Middle East ports.

"Big queues to get into ports, disrupted schedules and fruit not arriving on time - so everything we experienced in 2021 continued though 2022."

Hulbert said Zespri had to make changes to shipping due to the delays, and the continued lockdowns in China.

It switched more volume to charter vessels, and added another port in Taizhou, about 400km south of Shanghai, which gave it an alternative shipping route into China.

Despite the challenges Zespri exported a similar volume of kiwifruit this year as last.

"The season's probably gone a little bit longer than anticipated. But that's due to onshore labour capacity, and the ability to condition check and get that fruit out into the port and ship it."

Zespri had also struggled this season with lower fruit quality which made it harder to export, Hulburt said.

"In the latter part of the season we had to do an extensive reconditioning and repacking operation on the fruit to make sure the fruit that leaves New Zealand is of good, marketable quality.

"As a result, we've ended up having higher fruit loss onshore just because the fruit has been slower to ship."

Zespri was taking a hard look at next year and adjusting things that had affected quality, he said.

"We're looking at our entire supply chain, from the orchard through to packing facilities and shipping and storage facilities offshore to make sure we do all the basic things right.

"There's no one big factor, it's just getting all those little things right, and that'll have a combined net effect to make sure we deliver good quality fruit."

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