The first of more than 50 refrigerated ships that will carry New Zealand kiwifruit to export markets this season has left Tauranga.
The Atlantic Erica set sail for Japan yesterday with mainly gold variety kiwifruit from the first of the harvest in Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.
Kiwifruit marketer Zespri's chief executive Lain Jager said 500,000 to 600,000 trays would be shipped in the first week from a total export crop projected to increase to about 108 million trays this year.
He said that signalled a full recovery from the Psa vine disease that broke out about five years ago.
"Gold volumes this year in fact will exceed 30 million trays, and it was 30 million trays that we did in 2011, before the devastating impact of Psa saw volumes drop to just 10 million trays over the following two years," he said.
"So really a fantastic recovery from the impact of Psa, although I would hasten to add there are still many growers feeling the impact of Psa, both in terms of volumes on orchard and of course the financial impact on their balance sheet, following that loss of cash flow over two or three years."
Mr Jager said most of the gold harvest would be the new more Psa tolerant sungold variety, but there would still be five or six million trays of the original gold variety, mostly from areas outside Bay of Plenty.