N.Z. Kiwifruit Payout May Rise on Higher Prices, Zespri Says

Zespri International Ltd., the world’s biggest kiwifruit exporter, said payouts to New Zealand growers may rise 6.2 percent this year on increased prices for the golden variety of the fruit and lower costs.

Total payments may reach NZ$827 million ($622 million) for the year ending March 31, from NZ$779 million last year and up from the group’s August forecast of NZ$804.7 million. The increase reflects strong demand for golden fruit, lower fuel and freight costs and gains on foreign exchange, Tauranga-based Zespri said in an e-mailed statement.

New Zealand is the third-largest kiwifruit producer behind Italy and China. Zespri accounts for about 30 percent of the global trade and ships about 100 million trays from New Zealand annually.

Growers should get about NZ$11.99 a tray for gold fruit, 24 percent more than last year and up from the NZ$11.67 forecast in August.

“This is an extraordinary result in a challenging year,” Zespri Chief Executive Officer Lain Jager said in the statement. “A high proportion of the gold crop is sold in Japan” and returns also benefited from an improved yen-New Zealand dollar exchange rate, he said.

Prices for the green kiwifruit, which make up about 74 percent of production, will fall to about NZ$6.91 a tray from NZ$6.98 last year, with cost savings almost offsetting generally weaker consumer demand for fruit, Jager said.

Growers may receive NZ$8.81 a tray for organic green fruit, down from NZ$9.27 last year. Organic sales appear to have suffered as occasional buyers of the variety reverted to the conventional product at cheaper prices, Jager said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gavin Evans in Wellington at gavinevans@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Iain Wilson iwilson2@bloomberg.net

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