Kiwifruit growers suffer 'critical' labour shortage

Rural Exchange 19/08/2018

New Zealand's kiwifruit growers are struggling to keep up with its continued growth.

At the start of this year's harvest, the industry was 1,200 staff short.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) had predicted that a severe labour shortage would occur in the next decade, but this shortage hit earlier and more severely than anticipated.

Increased global demand for kiwifruit could see the industry produce 190 million trays of kiwifruit in 2027, up from 123 million trays in 2017.

Total revenue made by the New Zealand Kiwifruit industry is predicted to hit $4 billion by 2027.

NZKGI CEO Nikki Johnson told RadioLIVE’s Rural Exchange the situation will escalate significantly if no action is taken.

In a statement, Ms Johnson said: “The kiwifruit industry is growing quickly and NZKGI is committed to progressing the discussion on solutions that can mitigate the risks of labour shortages.”

Labour analysis by NZKGI found staff shortages are due to:

  • Low unemployment rates, which show no sign of abating.
  • Fewer people on working holiday visas choosing to work in the industry.
  • Short-term roles on offer

Ms Johnson says their research reveals an additional 7000 seasonal workers will be needed by 2027.

Watch the full interview with Nikki Johnson above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.