20 Jul 2012

PSA squeezes firms relying on kiwifruit industry

8:31 am on 20 July 2012

The vine disease PSA is putting the squeeze on businesses that rely on the kiwifruit industry.

One of them is Ranfurly Orchard Services, a spray contracting business based in Te Puke.

Bob Cook, who runs the company, says in the first 12 months since the discovery of PSA, everyone was run off their feet spraying a whole range of products to try to prevent it from spreading.

He says last year, the company had eight sprayers and 12 full time staff.

That changed as growers ran out of money, and now Mr Cook says a third of its business has disappeared.

He says the business virtually dried up at Christmas and New Year, to the point where the company has had to lay three people off and sell a machine.

Mr Cook says the company will get through a critical spray in August with existing machinery but may then face further redundancies and the need to sell further equipment.

He says on a year to date basis the company is trading at about 40% of what it was at this time last year.

"It's quite a challenge, you build up a team of people that are loyal and it's pretty hard laying them off, but that's the reality of the situation."