2 Feb 2023

Kiwifruit growers say confidence in Zespri 'dented' over lack of pay

1:57 pm on 2 February 2023
Haywood Green Kiwifruit

Haywood Green Kiwifruit Photo: RNZ / Susan Murray

A kiwifruit growers organisation has written an open letter to Zespri asking for an explanation over the lack of February progress payments for producers of green kiwifruit.

In an update to growers on 20 January, Zespri said growers would not get progress payments as fruit quality issues had resulted in additional costs.

In the letter the New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) executive committee asked Zespri how it could get the orchard gate return (OGR) forecast so wrong.

"The 20 January announcement was an extreme deviation from the November OGR forecast. Furthermore, the NZKGI executive committee question how much of the variation should have been known at the Zespri board meeting in December.

"Confidence in Zespri's ability to forecast has been dented," the letter reads.

Chairman Mark Mayston said there was a high level of concern about Zespri's systems which allowed for the situation to happen.

"There's a lack of transparency from Zespri about the offshore side of the supply chain and growers have been left in the dark as communication from Zespri is untimely and inadequate on such important financial matters."

Mayston said additional questions that growers submitted to NZKGI would be put to Zespri in a series of grower meetings.

"Zespri must find resolutions on these points so that growers, particularly green and green organic growers who are suffering heavily on the back of this situation, can have their confidence in Zespri restored," he said.

Zespri chief grower, industry and sustainability officer Carol Ward said it would continue to work with NZKGI, suppliers, growers and other industry partners to ensure this was addressed through the quality action plan the industry had established.