Zespri Kiwifruit Shipment to Europe Delayed Due to Mice Infestation

Mice infestation delays Zespri's kiwifruit shipment to Europe, causing $12M loss and raising food safety concerns. Zespri works to address the issue and minimize impact on the upcoming export season.

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Zespri Kiwifruit Shipment to Europe Delayed Due to Mice Infestation

Zespri Kiwifruit Shipment to Europe Delayed Due to Mice Infestation

The start of the European kiwifruit season has been pushed back by a week after mice were found in the fruit holds of a charter vessel carrying Zespri's first shipment of the season to Europe. The affected fruit, worth approximately $12 million and consisting of 1.2 million trays of SunGold kiwifruit, was placed in quarantine and will be destroyed.

The infestation was identified upon the vessel Crown Garnet's arrival in Zeebrugge, Belgium, during a standard clearance process. Zespri's chief operating officer, Jason Te Brake, noted that the mice had spread across the ship's refrigerated holds, raising concerns over food safety due to diseases associated with the pests.

Zespri is working with its shipping partner and insurers to understand the cause of the invasion and establish additional processes to prevent such incidents from recurring. The company takes fruit quality very seriously and will not compromise on it. This marks the first time in over 20 years that Zespri has encountered this issue while supplying high-quality fruit.

Why this matters: The mouse infestation and resulting delay underscore the significance of stringent food safety measures in the global fruit trade. As a major kiwifruit exporter, Zespri's ability to effectively address and prevent such issues is vital for maintaining consumer confidence and minimizing financial losses.

A second charter vessel is due to arrive in Zeebrugge on Saturday for inspection before being released to customers. Zespri is projecting a bumper 2024 export season, with 63 charter vessels lined up to ship about 695,000 tonnes of kiwifruit. The company is working to start the European sales season as soon as possible to meet strong consumer demand, despite the setback caused by the mice infestation.

Key Takeaways

  • Mice found in Zespri's first kiwifruit shipment to Europe, worth $12M, to be destroyed.
  • Infestation discovered during standard clearance process, raising food safety concerns.
  • Zespri working to understand cause and implement measures to prevent future incidents.
  • Second charter vessel due for inspection before release to customers.
  • Zespri projecting a bumper 2024 export season despite the setback.