Kia ora, welcome to our Kiwifruit Newsletter

Kiwifruit News August 2023 Edition

James Trevelyan
Managing Director

The orchard ordeal

In 2005, Vic and I bought our first orchard. The orchard was split 50/50 Hort 16a and Hayward. In the season of 2008, we harvested our Hort 16a and waited for the Hayward to reach the appropriate maturity before harvesting. Then came the hailstorm. I could not believe my eyes, there was a hail belt from Rangiuru Road across to the base of the Papamoa Hills and our orchard was in that belt. When it was time to harvest, we gathered extra hands to help pull out as much of the hail-damaged fruit as we could. The team worked on an hourly rate with an audit function in place so we could understand and manage the quality of the fruit. We endured the added cost in the field, but the fruit flowed through the packhouse and to market with few issues. While packing other hail-affected orchards at the packhouse that year, there was a marked difference in reject rates and coolstore performance depending on the way the fruit was harvested.

When the time came to send out the reject charges from Trevelyan’s, it seemed unfair that we should be sending out the full charge to some of the hail-affected growers. However, after further investigation, those with the higher reject rates tended to be the orchards that had done little to manage the quality in the field. At the packhouse we struggled to manage our costs that year, losing over a $1.00/tray; the pool ended up shielding those below-average crops from the real costs of repacking and fruit loss. Those with low reject rates had ring-fenced the costs in the field rather than passing them on.

I feel like that time has arrived again, but this time it is around the charge that was introduced for the number of explosive fruit above 1/bin. Like the hail event, I saw both fantastic and challenging results from orchards this year.

Before I write my contribution to the newsletter, I like to read what I wrote in the same month in the previous year. Interestingly, in 2022 I was writing of similar challenges to what we are seeing this year, being physical damage and Alternaria (NPFG) which is caused by juice getting on fruit. This year, NPFG is the highest reject found when we condition-check pallets, see the graph below. Over the last four years the number of explosive fruit coming off orchard has continually worsened, driving the increase in NPFG found at condition checking. The issue is easily managed in the field for those that want to get their head around the issue. I think the time has come to start passing a portion of these costs back to the field.

The opportunities are huge if we can control the issue on orchard; there will be less cost to the pool and more money for the growers. We need to have a go.

John Lewitt
Head of Operations and Logistics

Shipping and fruit loss

We have shipped 90% of our fruit across all fruit groups and are still on track to have the remaining fruit shipped by mid-October. We have recently completed a very busy period of shipping, with our load out volumes having now reduced from over 2,200 pallets per week to under 1,500 pallets per week. As our shipping volumes continue to reduce, we begin to say farewell to some of our fixed-term staff members. A big thank you to them for their efforts in helping us deliver good quality fruit to the markets once again this season.

Our fruit quality continues to perform well this season with lower fruit loss than the industry in all fruit groups apart from Organic SunGold, where our fruit loss is slightly higher than the industry average. This is in part due to a slower shipping programme than the rest of the industry.

We are currently repacking around 50% of SunGold pallets and 30% of Hayward pallets. The main defects we are repacking for in SunGold are Physical Damage Rots and Non-Pathogenic Fungal Growth (NPFG). We are also seeing dehydration in some lines of fruit, although at levels a lot lower than in 2022. The trend is the same in the Hayward variety, with Physical Damage Rots and NPFG as the main defects causing us to repack pallets. We are starting to see some over-ripe fruit in our Hayward checks too.

We completed local market avocado packing in late August and have transitioned into the export avocado packing season. The first few weeks of export packing have relatively small bin volumes, but weekly packing volumes are set to steadily increase through September, reaching a peak in early October. At this stage, our export packing programme is planned to continue until late February.

Debbie Robinson
Head of Supply

August forecasted orchard gates returns

The Zespri Grower Roadshows are currently on, and I hope you’ll be able to attend one of them. The Zespri team, including the board’s Chairman, Bruce Cameron, and Chief Operating Officer, Jason Te Brake, will update growers on the August financial forecast, the 2023 market performance and planning for 2024.

Zespri will present some waterfall charts at these roadshows that clearly show the forecasted Orchard Gate Returns (OGRs) for 2023, compared to the final 2022 returns. This resource succinctly demonstrates the positive and negative changes that influence our OGRs, and I believe many of you will find the information helpful.

Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have your individual TGL-forecasted OGRs. We are currently busy calculating these for you, having only recently received the industry information they are based on. Please remember that KiwiStart and time rates are updated to reflect the new season’s rates in August each year.

It’s pleasing to see increased returns per tray for all fruit groups. A significant amount of the increase is from a decrease in the cost of quality that has been negatively impacting grower returns for the last few years. Let’s hope this continues. Unfortunately, average returns per hectare are down due to many growers having lower tray numbers this season.

While time rates were increased significantly this year, with low crop volumes, Zespri decided to ship the fruit much earlier than usual. Their plan was to get the fruit to market early and in good condition to help build back the value of the Zespri brand and regain market confidence. This plan has worked to date, with very low fruit loss onshore and reduced offshore costs. However, due to the fruit being loaded so early, the opportunity for growers to earn high time rates has been significantly reduced. These high rates are for fruit that can be supplied late, when the risk of fruit loss is at its highest. The reduction in time rates means the funds that normally would have been paid to growers whose fruit was stored late, goes back into fruit value, which goes to all growers, including KiwiStart growers. This does raise some grower equity issues that will need to be considered, although it’s potentially too difficult to make changes for the current season.

Grower Roadshows – August and September


Pranoy Pal
Kiwifruit Technical Manager

Biochar in kiwifruit orchards

What is biochar?
Biochar is any organic material, such as winter/summer prunings, shelterbelt prunings, stumps and slash, sawmill dust, bark, etc., that has been burnt at high temperatures (300-1000°C) in the presence of little or no oxygen. This process (called ‘pyrolysis’) releases bio-oils and gases and leaves a solid residue of at least 80% elemental carbon, called biochar. It is very similar to barbeque charcoal, but it’s called biochar because of its base material and its aim of soil conditioning.

Benefits of biochar
Applying biochar includes reduced nutrient leaching, improved soil characteristics and crop productivity, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, enhanced availability of plant nutrients, and remediation of contaminated soils. Biochar is a light, porous material that has ‘reception sites’ in its microstructure that can help increase the soil’s CEC (cation exchange capacity) and acts as a slow-release fertiliser when combined with conventional fertilisers, compost, or manure. It is also a proven carbon capture tool and greenhouse gas mitigation tool.

Creating your own biochar at the orchard is not a huge task. You can use a ‘pit’ or a kiln to put your winter/summer prunings, culled trees, etc., through pyrolysis. There are several commercial providers of biochar, too. Applying the carbon-rich product back to the soil can be a considerable gain.

In the 2022/23 season, we performed a soil biology trial in a Gold3 block using ‘biochar only’, ‘cover crop seeds’, ‘cover crop seeds + biochar’, and ‘control’ treatments, measuring the soil biology quarterly throughout the year. We found much higher quantities of beneficial soil biology in the ‘cover crop seeds + biochar’ treatment. Seeing these encouraging results, we started a more refined trial last week. We will keep you updated on how it’s going.


Bex Astwood
Organic Category Manager

Kiwifruit in Canada

Upon my return from Canada, I am pleased to report that the fruit I encountered was of high quality and convenient accessibility. Through exploration of supermarkets and markets in Vancouver, a selection of both GA and HW fruits was readily available. Of interest, the highest retail price I saw was $3.49 (~$4.30 NZD) per kiwi!

The latest data from the Trevelyan’s vs Industry Shipping and Fruit loss report (Week 34)’ also demonstrates the improvement in fruit quality, especially compared to the 2022 season.

Looking at GAOB, last year’s statistics show Trevelyan’s at 96% shipped with a 1.30% fruit loss, contrasting with the current year’s 98% shipment rate and 0.63% fruit loss. Similarly, the Industry was 91% shipped in the previous year with 2.81% fruit loss, whereas this year’s 99% shipped with 0.56% fruit loss.

HWOB follows a similar trajectory. Last year, Trevelyan’s stood at 84% shipped with a 0.32% fruit loss, while this year we are 88% shipped accompanied by 0.05% fruit loss. In the Industry, last year saw a 67% shipment with 1.09% fruit loss, whereas the current year has a 90% shipment rate and 0.65% fruit loss.

It’s encouraging to see that despite the challenges faced this season—including frost, floods and hail—both Trevelyan’s and the Industry have managed to decrease levels of fruit loss compared to the same period last year.

Sarah Lei
Head of Sustainability

Our 2022 sustainability report

“If the road is easy, it’s probably easy because it’s not a road and you’re not on it.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough

One of the most challenging tasks in my role as Head of Sustainability at Trevelyan’s is writing our annual Sustainability Report. It takes a lot of time and effort to collate the data for the report. This year we have taken a significant step and designed the report in-house, which has added to the complexity of the task.

Despite these challenges, we recognise the importance of sharing our sustainability journey with our stakeholders. We remain committed to publicly reporting our sustainability progress annually, as we have done every year since 2014.

The 2022 Sustainability Report is the ninth report we have produced.

Our 2022 Sustainability Report includes the following:

  • The sustainability challenges facing our business and the steps we’re taking to address them.
  • Our business performance and our progress towards our sustainability targets.
  • Improvements and initiatives we’ve adopted to help achieve our goal of growing a better future.
  • Three case studies – sustainable finance, carbon-neutral kiwifruit and showcasing sustainability.

The report has been prepared in accordance with the latest Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards) (2021). The GRI Standards are the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting standard.

Our 2022 Sustainability Report can be accessed by clicking on the following link and it will also be emailed out to you in the next couple of weeks. I encourage you to read it and, if you have any comments or questions, please get in touch

Colin Olesen
TGL Chair

You are only as old as you think you are

Your Directors have finalised the charging procedures for explosive fruit experienced at the packing of this year’s crop. Notice of individual grower’s charges will be issued shortly, with the deduction occurring the following month.

Around the same time, the hail self-insurance levy will be deducted and simultaneously paid to those growers who suffered hail damage and have had their claims accepted through the Zespri system. Any hailed growers that opted out of the Trevelyan self-insurance facility will not receive a payout nor be charged any levy.

A suggestion was made to your Directors by an Opotiki grower that TGL should consider establishing a policy and procedure that enables growers to join together to donate monies to a local foundation – the example given being the Eastern Bay Community Foundation that operates in and around the Opotiki area. In the Tauranga/Te Puke area that could be the Acorn Foundation. The voluntary contribution could be, say, two cents per Class 1 tray packed. The collective amount from all growers that elected to participate could be a significant sum of money that would benefit the local community in some way and provide excellent reputational effect for our industry. Your Directors’ initial thoughts are to support this, but further research and discussion is required. If any grower has comments they wish to be taken into account, please make these known to any TGL Director.

Nominations will soon be called for three grower Director positions on the TGL Board. We have nine grower Directors, and three of the nine retire each year, but they can stand for re-election. Murray Cresswell, Kyle Howie, and Mat Johnston complete their three-year term this year. A formal notice will soon be issued outlining the situation more fully and the timeline for the election process. Now is the time to start thinking about nominations.

I recently attended my sole remaining Aunt’s 100th birthday party. She was fully active and interactive on the day. I haven’t felt so young for a long time!

Daylight is lengthening each day – a great time of the year.


The 2023 kiwifruit grower tour

Check out some of the photos from our Kiwifruit Grower Tour last week.

The tour went through four stations; highlighting our reject analysis procedures, laboratory test methods, Packhouse 4 automation and our Grower’s Portal capabilities. It was a fun and informative afternoon, followed by some drinks and nibbles in the setting sun on our beautiful Village Green!