Zespri is warning its profit may fall as much as 40% as it struggles with fruit quality. The forecast profit of $217 million to $227m in the year to March is down from its November forecast of up to $235m, and below last year’s $361.5m profit. Kiwifruit is New Zealand’s largest horticultural export and Zespri handles about a third of the fruit’s global trade, selling into more than 59 countries. But it has been beset with fruit quality issues, which is impacting the company’s reputation for supplying consistent fruit quality. Zespri chair Bruce Cameron says volumes from its growers in other countries are also down. The kiwifruit harvest generally starts in February and runs through until June. The poor fruit quality has been attributed to inexperienced staff due to a labour shortage, frost, and other reasons. Zespri expects to pay $5.55 per tray of 30 fruit for green kiwifruit, down from its November forecast of $6.13. Returns for each of the major varieties are down from November’s forecast, other than for Organic SunGold Kiwifruit Its shares have lost a quarter of their value over the past year.
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