UPDATED: Kiwifruit markets headed for ‘uncharted territory’ - The Packer

UPDATED: Kiwifruit markets headed for ‘uncharted territory’

03/25/2014 02:16:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Kiwifruit prices could be headed into record territory as Chile, hit hard by September freezes, takes over the deal.

As of March 24, Chilean kiwifruit shipments were just 15-20% of what they were at the same time the past two seasons, said Chris Kragie, deciduous fruit manager for Madera, Calif.-based Western Fresh Marketing.

Those percentages will increase, he said — early-season fruit was hit hardest by the fall freezes. Still, Kragie is expecting the Chilean kiwifruit crop to be down about 70% this season.

That will yield very strong markets, said Steve Woodyear-Smith, tropicals category director for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.

“We’re really in uncharted territory as far as pricing,” Woodyear-Smith said. “‘Shipping in volume from Chile’ might be a misnomer this year.”

No one benefits, Woodyear-Smith said, when supplies are so limited. There will likely be very few or even no promotions on Chilean fruit this season, and retail shelf space could shrink, he said.

“Consumers might say that they’re unwilling to pay 99 cents for a piece of kiwifruit,” Woodyear-Smith said.

The first shipments of Zespri kiwifruit from New Zealand should arrive in mid-May, said Michele Hoard, marketing manager of Zespri North America, a division of Mount Maunganui, New Zealand-based Zespri International Ltd., the exclusive exporter of the country’s kiwifruit.

With high global demand for green kiwifruit, green shipments to the U.S. will be down this year, Hoard said.

Zespri also will ship the SunGold gold variety and organic green kiwifruit.

“We’re expecting demand to be high for both of these great varieties,” Hoard said of the SunGold and organic green. “SunGold is going to revolutionize the kiwifruit category. And organic green volume into North America continues to grow with the demand.”

The SunGold is larger than other varieties and doesn’t have a crown, she said. It was introduced in 2012 to replace gold varieties devastated by the vine disease pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae, or PSA.

Zespri will rely on marketing programs this season touting its health and new variety research, Hoard said.

“We’re excited about the upcoming season.”

Western Fresh expected to ship California kiwifruit into early April, when Chile will take over the deal.

Italian kiwifruit shipments, meanwhile, also are far below typical years, Kragie said. Italian volumes are 10-20% lower than last season, but because of huge demand from Europe, Italian volumes to the U.S. in late winter and early were only about 20% of what they are in a typical year, Kragie said.

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Florida  |  March, 26, 2014 at 09:14 AM

Mr. Koger, Your headline reads that Kiwifruit may be heading into unchartered territory. I think perhaps you meant uncharted territory. Unchartered is defined as " without a charter or constitution , lawless, irregular". Uncharted is defined as " territory not yet mapped or surveyed, unknown territory". Therefore based on your article of the price of hitting new highs previously unknown it would seem that the word uncharted would be a more accurate word to use. The two words are often confused and misused.

Frank the Tank    
March, 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Why do Chilean people always wear khaki pants and light blue shirts? It never changes.

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