Kia ora, welcome to our Kiwifruit Newsletter

eNews Kiwifruit January 2023 Edition

Steve Butler
General Manager

The Cost of Quality

Over the last few days, I have been reflecting on the email from Zespri advising that, due to fruit quality issues, Green OGR forecasts will reduce by an additional $0.60 cents/tray for conventional and $0.50 cents/tray for organic. This is a significant reduction considering it was only a few weeks ago that we had an updated forecast. Further detail needs to come out from Zespri so we can understand the reasons why, but right now, my thoughts are with Green growers that are facing the impact of a potentially limited cashflow for the next few months.

If any of you have questions about your payments still to come, please contact Kelly, Debbie, or your grower rep.

As I look to this season, it is unavoidable that costs will rise across our industry. Post-harvest operators have invested heavily over the last couple of years to meet projected volumes for 2022 and 2023, and this volume growth has not eventuated. Trevelyan’s is no exception, with our three key cost areas of labour, packaging and interest increasing markedly.

With on-orchard costs also rising, what can we do to improve returns for growers?

There is one cost area that I am constantly drawn to. It is the cost of quality…the last Zespri update indicated that Gold was $3.36/tray and Green was $2.08/tray (add in the additional $0.60 and Green sits at $2.68/tray). Since 2020, the cost of quality for both Gold and Green has risen over 300%! If fruit quality was improved to take us back to 2021 levels for cost of quality, this would return an additional $1.71/tray for Gold and $1.00/tray for Green.

Our challenge as an industry is to reduce the cost of quality by focusing on delivering a quality product all the way through to the consumer. We may not have all the answers, but there are some simple things that we can do to improve the overall fruit quality.

At Trevelyan’s, we have looked at our reject surcharge system and have determined that we need to put more focus on the cost of delivering out-of-grade fruit to the packhouse. For 2023 we have increased the reject surcharge slightly for the lowest percentage of rejection, with a greater increase at a higher percentage. Based on the average reject rates from 2022, this would equate to an increase in the surcharge of $0.08 per Class 1 tray.

Increase for 2023+$0.005+$0.01+$0.02

Reject Surcharges per Class 1 tray

0-5%5.1% – 10%>10%
2023 Charge$0.015$0.030$0.050
2022 Charge$0.010$0.020$0.030

I would like to think that with a focus on improving fruit quality, we can all work to counteract the impact of rising costs, by generating value out of a reduced cost of quality. Feel free to contact your grower rep if you wish to discuss further.

Trevelyan's News - John Lewitt

John Lewitt
Head of Operations and Logistics

Operations Update

The 2023 kiwifruit harvest season is fast approaching, and we are currently expecting to pack around 18 million trays of Class 1 fruit across all varieties and grow methods. In 2022 we packed a total of 17.35 million trays of fruit.

Our recruitment of seasonal staff is well underway, and we will start inducting these staff from mid-February. In total, we are planning to employ around 1,300 seasonal staff to cover both our day shift and night shift operations. This year we plan to do our inductions a bit differently to prior seasons. We plan to do more regular inductions with smaller groups rather than the large whole-shift inductions that were previously conducted. We hope that by delivering inductions to smaller, more intimate groups, staff will have a better understanding of our site’s policies and procedures.

This season we expect to put around 18,000 bins of SunGold into buffer store coolstores and 8,500 bins into controlled atmosphere coolstores. We will pack the 18,000 bins of buffer store fruit in the 10-day period between the end of the SunGold harvest and the start of the Hayward harvest. We will then pack the 8,500 bins of controlled atmosphere fruit after we have completed the Hayward harvest.

All of this should mean regular and consistent work for our staff throughout the harvest season. We are planning to run the same shift structure as last season, with that being six days on and one day off for both day shift and night shift.

Industry Update - Debbie Robinson

Debbie Robinson
Head of Supply

Grow Pest-free Fruit and Maximise Returns

It seems I have been writing about the cost of quality a lot lately. This is because, as a grower myself, I really struggle seeing grower returns eroded by anything that, as an Industry, we can address.

Another area that requires our continued focus is finding ways to reduce the volume of fruit with market restrictions e.g., scale, leafroller, other pests or spray residues. I was in a meeting yesterday and heard the comment that “growers don’t care if they have market restrictions as it doesn’t impact their returns at all”.

While unlike the cost of quality (which is relatively easy to put an actual value on), it is harder to accurately value all costs related to market restrictions. When fruit has to be diverted to a lower-paying market, the cost is by way of reduced earnings (lower market returns) that are unfortunately shared by all growers, not just the growers with the market restricted fruit.

In recent years, Zespri has had concerns that we could not meet the demand of high-paying markets (i.e. China) due to pest finds at packing. Zespri stated that shorting such important markets would impact our grower returns, so implemented a Kiwigreen incentive programme for the 2022 season to improve “all market access”. To increase the volume of fruit available to all markets, pest monitoring and appropriate actions were a requirement to qualify for the 25-cent incentive (paid on submitted trays). The programme proved extremely difficult for Zespri to administer and has been discontinued for 2023.

The Trevelyan’s inventory management team try their hardest to find markets for fruit that have multiple restrictions, but sometimes there are very limited options available. The team must then wait until additional demand is found, further driving increased fruit loss (another hidden cost and added complexity for our inventory management team).

All growers are aware of the current economic environment and rising costs, unfortunately coupled with decreasing returns for their fruit. Over the years, growers have a history of showing their ability to focus on positive change when times get tough. While incentivising individual growers to produce fruit that has the flexibility to be delivered to all markets is challenging, I believe that as growers fully understand the hidden financial impact that these restrictions have on grower returns, more growers will rise to the challenge to produce the best fruit that can be delivered at all markets.

We are fortunate to have an excellent technical team at Trevelyan’s who are here to support you in making great decisions regarding on orchard practises.

Please call Gordon Skipage or Pranoy Pal if you have any issues you’d like to discuss.

Technical Info - Pronoy

Pranoy Pal 
Kiwifruit Technical Manager

Can This Abnormal Summer Affect Fruit Quality?

In terms of fruit physiology, most of the carbohydrates produced in the leaves are distributed around the vines and fruit until late January/early February. From late January, fruit growth slows down, and the carbohydrates are increasingly stored in the fruit as starch. Once ripe, this starch, measured as dry matter (DM), turns to sugar (brix) – higher DM is desirable to both the grower (higher OGR) and the consumer (great taste). Prolonged spells of sunshine hours play a key role in optimum DM accumulation.

We have heard about fruit quality issues numerous times over the last few seasons and the changing climate (probably also due to La Nina weather phenomenon), seems to be one of the many reasons for the decline in fruit quality.

An analysis of the recent weather events performed by NIWA showed that, compared to the 30-year period between 1981 and 2010, a 400% greater-than-average rainfall has been experienced in most growing regions during the first 10 days of January 2023. Moreover, the average temperatures have been slightly warmer than normal (i.e., wet, cloudy and humid). The analysis also showed that the North Island has received less than 85% of “normal sunshine hours” during this period.

We compared the solar radiation experienced by the Te Puke region over the last five harvest seasons. The amount of solar radiation is represented as ‘totalled’ (Figure 1) and ‘averaged’ (Figure 2) for each period in the growing season. A general observation is that ‘good dry matter seasons’ (i.e. 2019, 2020 and 2021) enjoyed the relatively higher sunshine intensity, while seasons with relatively lower dry matter (i.e. 2018 and 2022) had comparatively lower levels of sunshine intensity.

Figure 1.
Total sunshine intensity over the harvest seasons in the Te Puke region.

Figure 2. Average sunshine intensity over the harvest seasons in the Te Puke region

Thanks to the ongoing La Nina weather pattern, data gathered for the 2023 growing season appears to be similar to the 2022 season (warm, wet with relatively lower sunshine hours). As a result, we may expect similar fruit quality issues as per last year, such as:

  • Increase in vine vigour.
  • Increase in fruit size.
  • Probable decline in dry matter accumulation.
    • While we have not yet seen many DM results for the 2023 season, you may have noticed that summer fruit (i.e. berries) are tasting a bit bland this summer (driven by poor dry matter accumulation).
  • Incidence of softening fruit/shrivelled stalks.

The key message here is to remain vigilant on the orchard:

  • Maintain best practice management, including managing vigour on the orchard and maintaining open canopies.
  • If considering dry matter girdles, do not girdle stressed vines – if conducting 2 x girdles, conduct them four weeks apart in mid/late January and mid/late February.
    • If conducting one dry matter girdle, conduct it in mid-February (as per Kiwifruit TechTip – 10th January 2023).
  • Lay off the foliar fertilisers – don’t use products like Stimplex, Acadian, Fylloton or MC Cream at this time of the year.
  • Continue to observe the orchard for pests – leafroller caterpillars are being observed at much higher levels than in in previous years.
  • Spray in ideal drying conditions – always harder in wet/humid conditions – but ANY spray applied in poor drying conditions can result in staining etc.
    • Particularly important for oil and copper applications – spray in less than 65% humidity and when temperatures are below 25°C.
  • Keep an eye out for shrivelled stalks/explosive fruit (Figures 3 and 4).
    • This is being observed in some orchards now – as an industry we cannot afford this fruit in a picking bag, bin, or tray!

Figure 3. Shrivelled stalks on Gold3 (January 2023)

Figure 4. Explosive/sick fruit on Gold3 (January 2023)

The next couple of months will be critical – if the weather clears and we have dry, hot weather, this should stimulate dry matter production in the fruit and advance maturity. It is critical that growers do what they can to ensure the quality of the fruit harvested, so that this helps Zespri deliver the best possible product to market – this means staying vigilant and producing the best possible crop you can.

Organic Insights

Bex Astwood
Organic Category Manager

Scale and the Japanese Market

This month, with the KiwiGreen monitoring teams out in action, I will touch on the Japanese market, Kiwigreen results and the application of summer oils.

Most of you know that, as an organic grower, Japan is a key market for driving good returns for the pool. To get these returns however, we must provide high-quality fruit, Japan has high scale and thrips restrictions and extra taste requirements.

For GA1OB in 2022, the R taste band was included for export to Japan. 83% of the submit was Y, T or R. After market restrictions however, only 45% of the same submit was able to be exported to Japan. For the 2022 season, enough fruit for Japan was packed and shipped to meet the required demand.

For HW1OB, 95% of the submit was Y and T band, but, after market restrictions, only 52% of the same submit was acceptable for export to Japan. Enough fruit was packed to meet the demand for Japan, but unfortunately this wasn’t shipped for a variety of reasons, including capacity issues and quality issues. This led to the market being shorted by around 100,000 trays.

So, what can you do to improve the opportunities for your fruit to meet the requirements of the Japanese market?

Keep an eye out for your KiwiGreen results – If you exceed Zespri’s minimum scale threshold of 4%, Zespri advocates a 1% “summer mineral oil” application to Gold3.

Three years of trial work by Plant & Food Research have consistently demonstrated that there is minimal risk of damage to Gold3 kiwifruit from a 1% mineral oil spray applied under good drying conditions in the second or third weeks of February (Zespri Need to Know – NK35). Check out our latest TechTip for more information.

As your fruit gets packed, Quality Control (QC) staff will take a random sample of fruit to make up a 600-fruit sample called a phytosanitary batch. This sample is used to determine the appropriate market restrictions for pests, rots, seeds, and plant material found. Japan has a major market restriction for scale and thrips, meaning that if there are more than 20 rejects in the sample, the market restriction is applied. We can also look at how your fruit performed in market if information from supplier accountability is available.

If you would like to know whether your fruit achieved access to the Japanese market, what market restrictions were placed on your fruit and how it performed in market – please let me know.

I also want to express my disappointment for Green Organic growers following Zespri’s announcement about offshore fruitloss and progress payments. Zespri will be hosting an Organic Town Hall meeting at Zespri on Wednesday 8th February from 4 p.m. This meeting will provide further information on what has happened with quality offshore regarding Green Organic, the November forecast and financials, and provide you with the opportunity to provide feedback to Zespri. I encourage you to attend this, either in person or online.

I look forward to catching up soon and will be in touch regarding your KiwiGreen monitoring results.


Sarah Lei
Head of Sustainability

Preparing for the “Not-So-Distant” Future

When we near the end of the year, it is easy to get caught up in festive preparations and completing tasks. As we move into the New Year with holidays, visitors, and everything else going on, we suddenly find that the whole of January has disappeared and, with it, many of our plans and good intentions for New Year’s resolutions.

A similar issue seems to be occurring with sustainability and climate targets as time continues its inexorable march onwards. When we moved into the 2020s, there was a strong feeling of optimism as organisations (including Zespri) set long-term sustainability goals to improve packaging and reduce carbon emissions. A similar approach was seen at a local and national level with greater acknowledgement of planetary boundaries and climate issues.

In 2020 however, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid change in focus (and a fortuitous reduction in environmental impacts as global travel was reduced). Even COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference) was postponed from November 2020 until November 2021 as the full impacts of COVID-19 were felt around the world.

Now that we emerge from the grip of the pandemic, we find that three years have already passed. More than half the time has gone by to achieve goals that are due in 2025 and nearly a third of the time to meet the 2030 targets.

At the same time, we find ourselves facing new challenges; rising inflation, high shipping costs, supply chain disruptions, a tight labour market, changing weather patterns, fruit quality issues and spiralling on-orchard costs such as fertiliser and diesel.

All these factors are more connected than we might initially realise. The links between COVID-19, border closures and a tight labour market have been widely documented, as have the downstream impacts on fruit quality for the NZ kiwifruit industry. What is less well-known is that synthetic fertilisers are produced using fossil fuels. Russia is a major producer of oil, gas and fertiliser,  and with the war in Ukraine, this has driven further increases in fertiliser prices.

Reduced refining capacity, due to the pandemic and the Ukraine war, has also put pressure on diesel supplies. The NZ economy and the kiwifruit industry are totally reliant on people, products and materials brought in from overseas, as well as our ability to send our produce in the opposite direction. Without a secure supply of fuel, it would take only a matter of days before our industry was seriously affected.

Scientists have been warning for some time that climate change will lead to unpredictable and more extreme weather patterns. The unseasonal weather experienced in 2022 is likely to become more common, making it more difficult to produce high-quality fruit to supply to the rest of the world.

Some might consider these issues as short-term problems which will likely resolve themselves in the near future. However, it would be wise to consolidate our learnings from the last few years to build greater resilience that can deal with whatever the future might look like and help achieve our industry’s ambitious sustainability targets.

Here are some of the resilience strategies that Trevelyan’s has adopted to help us prepare for the challenges of the “not so distant” future and to achieve our sustainability targets:

  1. Build strong local communities – we are an integral part of a much greater ecosystem that provides essential resources and labour for our organisation. We give back to our local community by providing employment and sponsorship, and are a positive role model for others.
  2. Maximise resource use and minimise waste – everything we buy and use has an impact, and requires transportation to get it to us. This cycle is repeated if it becomes waste. Better resource and waste management is key to greater resilience.
  3. Understand your challenges and risks – our focus on sustainability means that we look at things through different a lens. We collect data and analyse our resource consumption, and waste and carbon emissions. This helps us to see trends, understand the impact of our changing environment and adjust our course as required.
  4. Adapt quickly – if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be able to adapt quickly in a rapidly changing environment. We reach out to others who have already walked the path, we learn from our experiences and then we look ahead and start preparing for the next challenge.

All the best for 2023 and remember “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” Benjamin Franklin.



Colin Olesen
TGL Chair

Quality In, Enables Quality Out

Your Directors do not normally meet in January, but this year there were several items that needed attention, so a January meeting was held.

Quite some time was spent looking closely at the upcoming harvest and how we can best ensure that quality harvest practices are consistently applied. We know that these practices are integral to the improvement in fruit quality we need after the year the industry has just experienced, because of this, the entire audit process has been reviewed and amended. The bar has been raised on several audit points, so failing an audit is now a greater possibility if picking practices are not held to a high standard. We noted that there were significant changes happening in the harvest area across the whole industry.

We also received advice from TPCL that the reject charge rates for fruit pack would be adjusted, with a steeper curve of cost incurred by a grower who has a high reject rate. This simply lays the true cost back to the grower who produces that outcome, something your Directors fully support. The answer to avoiding these costs lies with the grower.

Your Directors also examined the option of placing growers with a poor record of harvest practice and fruit quality into a separate pool. While this was not agreed to, I mention it as a sign of what could one day happen. Money talks, so we must use that avenue, if need be, to ensure best practice and excellent fruit quality is attained.

The industry will shortly receive updated forecasts of their fruit payments for last year’s harvest. We are confident that Trevelyan’s growers will be pleased with our results when compared with the rest of the industry. In that discussion we noted the recent advice from Zespri relating to Green and Green organic February fruit payments being cancelled.

Annual legal agreements are in the process of being finalised, with the aim of getting these to all growers before their harvest commences.


Seasonal Job Recruitment

Our recruitment for the 2023 harvest season is in full swing. We have roles available on orchards and in the packhouses. If you know of anyone who may be interested in a job with Trevelyan’s, get them to go to or text JOBS to 8120.