Kia ora, welcome to our Kiwifruit Newsletter

Kiwifruit News December 2023 Edition

James Trevelyan
Managing Director

How much postharvest capacity do we have?

To answer the question, I ended up on the NIWA website1 listening to Chris and Ben, the two friendly gents talking about the forthcoming El Nino; they assured me that it is heading our way. They speak with such conviction, and answer the reasons why, which tests my 4th form Geography! What fascinates me is that we know our potential packing and coolstore capacity, but we struggle with crucial unknowns that this capacity is dependent on – the weather being one of them.

The weather impacts:

  • fruit size, hence coolstore volumes, and
  • fruit maturity, affecting harvest start times and processing speeds due to reject rates.

I’m told there is also a natural trend to underestimate large crops and overestimate small crops. This data changes every day, but to date, we have struggled with our predictions.

Secondly, there are the levers that Zespri controls: how fast we can get up to full packing capacity, and the rate at which Zespri ships the fruit out of the coolstore. A quick start will reduce the need for bin storage, but will place pressure on cool storage as we get ahead of Zespri’s departure plan. A late start will elevate the pressure on packing and increase the amount of fruit in buffer store, but eases the coolstore requirements (due to Zespri’s departure plan being more in line with packing); both scenarios are sensitive to the rate of change of fruit maturity.

Finally, in postharvest, if we have clean lines of fruit, there is no additional time and cost in sorting them out; harvesting the crops at the right maturity and quality will result in fantastic grower returns and further the predictability of capacity. To incentivise clean crops, we need a surcharge system, so that we are targeting the areas of waste.

It is only when we have optimised the supply chain that we will really understand how much capacity there is. The time to get smarter for tomorrow is now.



Pranoy Pal
Kiwifruit Technical Manager

Weather updates and anticipated pest pressure

The 2023 growing season will be infamously remembered for several reasons – the hail and frost in September 2022, the storm and flooding over Auckland Anniversary weekend, and Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023. It will also be known for being extremely wet, with significantly lower sunshine hours causing lower dry matter and a significantly lower production year. The majority of these events were attributed to the La Nina weather pattern, however, a ray of sunshine (pardon the pun!) is expected due to the developing El Nino pattern that will dominate the upcoming season with higher temperatures and greater sunshine hours; ultimately contributing to higher dry matter and better quality fruit. Below is a comparison of total sunshine hours and rainfall as at 14 December (when I am writing this newsletter).

Note: For clarity, the winter period for the 2023 harvest season is comprised of the solar radiation recorded during June-August 2022. Likewise, the summer of the 2023 harvest season is the total solar radiation in December 2022, January 2023, and February 2023.

As of now, spring sunshine hours for the upcoming season are higher than the 2023 season, which is promising.  

Although our weather looks encouraging, we need to be diligent on the pest front. The two previous seasons had significantly lower populations of key pests such as passionvine hopper (PVH) and cicadas – the assumption is that the soil-dwelling cicada nymphs were ‘drowned’ due to waterlogged conditions, while the PVH nymphs (aka ‘fluffy bums’) were washed away during heavy downpours. The upcoming drier months may serve as the ‘best window’ for the re-emergence of these and several other pests (leafroller and orange fruit borer are already showing this trend). We suggest that you keep up with your summer spray program (refer to the latest TechTip dated 13 December), keeping in mind the skin-sensitive periods of the different cultivars. Also, a reminder that irrigation with a ‘little-and-often’ approach will be key to maintaining good fruit size and dry matter.  

We hope you had a Merry Christmas holiday period and a Happy New Year.

    Bex Astwood
    Organic Category Manager

    Industry involvement

    Welcome to the December newsletter! It was a busy month, with lots of events:

    • We had the Zespri Organics Field Day, hosted by Doug Voss, with Trevelyan’s growers, Leighton oats, Jeff Roderick and Katrina White speaking on the grower panel. It was great to hear their reasons for growing organically, their management strategies, and their challenges.
    • We had the last COKA meeting of the year, with Zespri’s Dan Matheson and Jiunn Shih speaking on industry and organic issues.
    • Finally, I attended the Zespri Innovation Symposium. Of interest, Mike Casey gave a presentation on his cherry orchard. I know Zespri will be organising a trip here next year for anyone interested.

    These events are a great reminder of what a forward-thinking and solutions-focused industry we are part of, and it was great to see so many growers get involved.

    I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year, and we will catch up in 2024!


    Sarah Lei
    Head of Sustainability

    Growing a better future

    At the moment of writing this, it is getting closer to the festive season, which is a great time to reflect on how far we have come on our journey towards growing a better future over the past year. We will issue a full update in our Sustainability Report in the New Year, with all the details of our 2023 challenges and highlights. In the meantime, here is a brief update on some of my highlights for 2023.

    Sustainability-linked loan

    Finalising the details and targets of our Sustainability-linked loan early in 2023 brought a greater level of focus to our sustainability efforts – If we meet the targets, we will get a discount on the amount of interest we pay on our loans.

    We introduced a new tracking and reporting system to share progress across our organisation weekly so that everyone could see the impact of their efforts to help reach our goals.

    This helped generate much discussion during the year and led to many new ideas, and we are optimistic that we will be able to meet our ambitious targets.

    Supporting our local community

    We continued to support our local community with $61,000 of sponsorship towards local schools, sports clubs and events. It is such a privilege to be able to support so many great people doing awesome things.

    Just a couple (of the many) highlights included supporting a significant refurbishment of the Te Puke Playcentre Facility and Surfing for Farmers at Mount Maunganui.

    We also took the opportunity to welcome some of our key stakeholders and many other visitors to our site for a tour to see our sustainability efforts in action. Some of these included:

    • Māori Kiwifruit Growers Inc (MKGI)
    • Rural Leaders Value Chain Innovation Group
    • Katikati College Horticulture Students
    • Toi Ohomai Waste Management Students
    • AS Wilcox, Kilwell, GoodBuzz and PriorityOne

    Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas holiday period and a Happy New Year. If you are stuck for gift ideas and you would like to help grow a better future, check out this gift guide from the Sustainable Business Network.

    Trevelyan’s Sustainability Group Christmas Lunch

    Colin Olesen
    TGL Chair

    Information and communication

    The Trevelyan Orchard Gate Return December forecast has been issued to all growers. The VERY low fruit loss achieved by growers and TPCL has meant our growers have excellent returns again this year (2023).

    At our first Directors’ meeting after the AGM, Simon Cook was re-elected Deputy Chair for the next year, and I was re-elected Chair. We farewelled our 2023 Associate Directors, Adam Franklin and Sarah Bragg.

    We also appointed an Associate Director who will assume the role in January 2024. Arsh Khakh has been appointed for a two-year term. Future Associate Directors will also now be appointed for a two-year term as feedback from recent appointees suggested that they were just getting their feet under the table, so to speak, and their one-year term was up. Four applications were lodged this year, so the opportunity appears quite attractive.

    Feedback from the proposed Constitution changes has been noted, and your Directors have decided to deal with the proposed changes at the 2024 pre-harvest growers meeting, where the agenda will include a short, formal grower meeting to vote on the changes. A formal notice will be issued to all growers well in time for you to consider the changes, and then attend the pre-harvest meeting to exercise your vote.

    If you have not already done so, please browse around the new Zespri Canopy website and get to know it as a source of useful information for your kiwifruit business. There is also a much-needed report-back facility on how your fruit has performed in the market. This work was undertaken after significant feedback from growers who wanted to know how their fruit quality compared to the overall industry results. When I wrote this, I had only seen a demonstration presentation, and it appeared to be a very informative tool. The best way to develop an understanding of the information is to go online and ‘drill down’ on your KPIN figures. Your Grower Services Representative will also be able to assist if you need interpretation of your results.

    I could not finish this script without mentioning the word ‘Quality’. As we approach the 2024 harvest, there are going to be many pressure points that growers will be confronted with, mainly because of the significant percentage increase in national volume being harvested this year over last year. In all these pressure points, we need to consider the impact of fruit quality and then determine our way forward. The cost of quality has come down in 2023 from 2022’s extremely high figure, but there are still good cash flow gains for growers if we reduce the cost of quality even further.

    All the very best for 2024.


    The Trevelyan’s Newsletter

    We will be introducing the Trevelyan’s Newsletter (replacing the Kiwifruit News and the Avocado Quarterly). This newsletter will be circulated quarterly and incorporate information from all corners of the business; you will hear from most of the historic contributors, and meet some you have not heard from before. It will undoubtedly be a great read!


    Trevelyan’s 2023 top wins

    As 2023 came to an end, the Trevelyan’s Team have reflected on the year that was. Please take a moment to watch the video below and see our highlights of the year.

    We remain committed to ensuring the best outcomes for our growers, our people, and our community; thank you for trusting us as your reliable partner in business.

    All information is accurate at 12/12/2023 and the company assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors. All performance represented is historical and that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.