A PORT NELSON BLOG
Since the season commencement in early March, Port Nelson has seen a steady increase in the arrival of apple containers ready for export to global consumers. Year to date, 1398 containers have been exported, of which 518 were received last week, week 14 in the growing calendar or week one of COVID-19 lock down.
According to Container Operations Manager, Jonny Cook “this is the busiest week for export apple containers so far this season, and it is on a par with week 14 exports in 2018, the strongest season on record for Port Nelson”. The slightly higher export volumes during the same week in 2019 was a direct result of the early harvest caused by the drought faced last season. “The 2020 season is showing good container movements, and continued discussions with our customers show promising steady volumes in the weeks to come” added Cook.
The stable weather patterns in the region over this summer and the cooler autumn evenings have proved optimum growing conditions for apples in the Nelson-Tasman region, with high quality fruit of all varietals ripe for the picking. This harvest is expected to yield a 6% increase in volumes from the region and 10 -11% increase nationally.
Retail demand from all international consumers remains positive with a majority of containers departing Port Nelson for ports in South China, South East Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Retail demand is said to be bouyed by Europe’s high dependence on imported fresh produce, increased supermarket expenditure and the growth in popularity of fresh produce delivery services, both of which have been driven by the increased appeal of a healthy diet and the downturn in businesses supplying foodservice.
Like all industries, the port and orchards are impacted by adjusted COVID-19 workplace protocols. For the port this has meant on going communication with remaining on port service providers to ensure the steady supply of export ready reefer containers to exporters. For orchadists it has meant adapting harvest practices to new prootocols and fewer migrant pickers to pluck fruit off the trees in time to meet demand and strict shipping deadlines.
Jonny Cook commented that “the container operations and cargo reception team have now settled in to their new working environments and it is business as usual with the help of a little Kiwi-ingenuity and innovation to allow the smooth flow of cargo in to the port while working in isolation. Truck drivers delivering to the port have also been exceptionally patient and adaptable to the new way of working during alert level 4” .