Kiwifruit growers are on the hunt to find thousands of seasonal workers for this year’s harvest. But unlike recent years, industry experts are not predicting a huge labour shortage due to lower harvest volumes, automation, more international workers and Kiwi staff returning. Zespri is forecasting a slump of up to $144 million in its corporate net profit for the 2023 financial year compared to last year. Last season the industry was hammered by fruit quality issues, and this year some kiwifruit orchards in every growing region have been devastated by various weather events. EastPack chief executive Hamish Simson there has been a lift in RSE workers and working holiday visa workers – with numbers now approaching pre-Covid levels – and New Zealanders are returning.
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