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Short supplies heat up imported kiwi market

The 2014 international kiwi market is shaping up to be the shortest it has been in three decades. Prices for Italian kiwi are already up from 2013, and the volume of Chilean fruit looks to be down, which will raise prices.

"It's the hottest market I've seen in 28 years," Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager at Stellar Distributing in Madera, CA, told The Produce News. "It should be tight for the next four to six months, and it will affect pricing. The market was $16 to $18 per box in 2013. I expect it to be $24 to $26 per box this year."

"This is already the hottest market that we've ever seen," added Steve Woodyear-Smith, kiwi category manager for Oppy. "This is my 30th kiwi season. For the next seven months, volume should be 33-50 percent [lower than] last year. Crops out of Italy are similar or lower volume. But Chile was hit by two bad frosts. It's hard to tell where the Chilean pricing will fall, but it will definitely be up."

Cappelluti and Woodyear-Smith also expect reduced green kiwi out of New Zealand. The lower import volume will hurt the overall category and volume will be tight for retailers looking to supply kiwi lovers.

"All is not lost," said Woodyear-Smith. "Next year, things will bounce back. We will be looking after the accounts we need to look after, doing all we can do. There will be great opportunities out of New Zealand for organic and SunGold kiwifruit. We will be putting promotion behind that to raise awareness and excitement for people who want to promote something different."