Early season kiwifruit volumes packed by Seeka are well down on estimate – after what Chairman Fred Hutchings calls a difficult year. He says this reflects climatic events, including a mild winter followed by a severe late frost, cyclone and more recently, hail. CEO Michael Franks says yields could be down by 20% on last year and may result in a forecast operating loss for the current year. He says Seeka has reduced costs, slowed its capital spending but he says it is too early and once the harvest is complete, the market will be updated. Revenue last year was up 13% to $348 million while net profit plunged 56% compared to 2021 to $6.5m due to the company and its growers grappling with Covid-19, labour shortages of around 1100 workers, shipping disruptions, lower kiwifruit yields and poor fruit quality – all impacting returns. Michael Franks says this season a big increase in RSE workers from the Pacific and more backpackers will make a huge difference. Since Cyclone Gabrielle the company has been inspecting orchards to assess the potential impact on harvest 2023.
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