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Zespri grower returns sag but volumes up

NZN 26/05/2017 Pattrick Smellie

New Zealand's statutory kiwifruit exporter, Zespri, achieved distributable profit for its grower shareholders of $34.8 million in the year to March 31 on a 19 per cent increase in turnover of $2.26 billion.

The Tauranga-based business signalled a result roughly three times stronger than is expected in the current financial year, with prospects for an extra interim dividend being paid to growers in August.

This despite the outlook for total fruit volumes being lower for the season ahead.

The company focused its public statement on achieving a record net profit after tax of $73.7m for the year to March 31, up 106 per cent from the previous year's $35.8m result.

But the increase was "mainly due to revenue from the tender for licence for Zespri's proprietary variety SunGold last year", chairman Peter McBride said.

Total volumes of New Zealand-grown fruit rose 18 per cent to 137.7 million trays, compared to the previous year, while offshore production by Zespri-licenced growers rose 14 per cent to 16.6 million trays.

Payments to New Zealand growers per tray supplied fell 1 per cent to $9.46, although total payments were up 21 per cent at $1.39b because of the steep increase in total supply.

Figures show total New Zealand and offshore production of gold kiwifruit rose 48.2 per cent to 53.2 million trays, 47.9 million of which were grown in New Zealand.

Returns per tray of New Zealand-grown gold fruit rose 39 per cent to $98,838 per hectare, whereas the value of a hectare of the green variety fell 6 per cent to $53,555. Organic green fruit returns rose 3 per cent to $54,427 per hectare.

Zespri intends auctioning licences for some 1800 hectares of the premium gold variety plantings offshore over the next three years. That will help to meet year-round export market demand by doubling the supply of the gold fruit grown outside New Zealand.

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