In general, the quality of the first sungold kiwifruit delivered to the market this season has been woeful. Although it is yet to be signed off, the kiwifruit industry is heading into another quality review. In my time in the industry, there have been many reviews, and the first review I was involved in was in 2006. The average onshore fruit loss that year was 11.6% HW, 3.5% HWOB, and 10.6 % for GKCK. I clearly remember that year. We fought hard at packing time to keep the soft fruit out of the HW trays as we packed. The physical damage was a challenge for Hort 16a. There were times that we were packing the Hort 16a at only 900 trays an hour as we turned each piece of fruit looking for damage. We then audited those lines as we sent them off to Zespri’s newly formed ECPI team at the wharf. It was a hard year, our fruit loss that year was 2.3% HW and 1% Hort 16a.
▲redkiwifruit Orchard picking
I support the need for a review this year, but I ask myself, why are we having to do this again, did we miss something last time? Having now accomplished a full head of grey hair and having had my fair share of beatings over the years, I would sum the issue up with one line. “Every problem needs a home”. What I mean by this, is that if you leave a problem unattended it does not go away, it runs up the road chasing you. Then at some stage, it bites you hard on the backside- we shouldn’t need a disaster to sort problems out.
With the upcoming review, every part of the supply chain is involved, including growers, contractors, postharvest, and Zespri. Rather than waiting until the issues become untenable, we need to acknowledge and sort out our problems as they arise, the net result of this will be a happier customer.