Wednesday, 01 August 2018 09:10

Critical labour shortage

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The kiwifruit industry was 1,200 staff short at the start of the 2018 harvest. The kiwifruit industry was 1,200 staff short at the start of the 2018 harvest.

Prior to the 2018 harvest, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) warned of looming labour shortages over the next 10 years.

It says the kiwifruit industry was 1,200 staff short at the start of the 2018 harvest – the predicted labour shortage hit earlier and more severely than anticipated.

“Without intervention, the shortages experienced this year will become even more severe as the kiwifruit industry strives to take advantage of increased global demand for a product quickly becoming a fruit bowl favourite,” NZKGI says. 

In 2027, the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is forecast to produce 190 million trays of kiwifruit, up from 123 million trays in 2017.

To bring Government up to date on industry progress on finding solutions to the labour shortage, NZKGI published a report that quantifies the potential shortage and outlines the challenges the industry faces in securing staff. The report identifies a number of areas for industry to focus on to attract more seasonal workers.

NZKGI chief executive Nikki Johnson say while the 2018 labour shortage was worrying for the industry, the situation will escalate significantly if no action is taken. 

“The kiwifruit industry is growing quickly and NZKGI is committed to progressing the discussion on solutions that can mitigate the risks of labour shortages. 

“To take advantage of the growing appetite for kiwifruit, the industry’s efforts to attract people to pick, pack and prune will need to be complemented in the medium to long term by Government support to ensure a sustainable workforce for kiwifruit industry growth.”

 At a glance

- 7,000 additional seasonal workers required by 2027

- Potential workers unaware of improved payrates

- RSE workers crucial to fulfil short-term labour needs

- Report presented to Government officials for discussion


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