Kiwifruit export Zespri International of New Zealand announced a 63% drop in profits for the year ending March 31.
Earnings were hurt by expenditures helping growers fight a vine bacteria disease and payments of court fines in China, company officials said May 28.
The Mt. Maunganui-based company reported that global kiwifruit sales fell 4% to $1.56 billion and profits were $7.6 million, according to New Zealand-based Business Desk.
Zespri’s kiwifruit volumes were off 5% in 2012 to 110.1 million trays because of the Psa vine disease and seasonal factors, according to the report. The Psa vine bacteria (Pseudomonas Syringae pv actinidiae) has sliced into kiwifruit output in New Zealand since being discovered in 2010, and according to the company, without the influence of Psa, profit would have fallen only by 35%, to $10.7 million. The bacterial disease now infects about 40% of New Zealand’s kiwifruit crop, according to the Business Desk report.
The gold variety is particularly susceptible, and the company said sales of gold kiwifruit trays were down 16% last season and may drop 47% in 2013 before recovering in 2014, according to the report.
Zespri sold 9% more volume of kiwifruit in China in 2012 and saw sales there increase 21% to $117.3 million, according to the report. Zespri’s Chinese subsidiary company, Zespri Management Consulting, had been found guilty by a Chinese court of smuggling in March, and the Business Desk report said the latest earning statement includes the full provision for more than $10 million in court-imposed reparations and fines from that investigation.
Zespri officials said average returns for its green hayward fruit, comprising about 70% of export volume, rose 21% to $4.62 a tray.