On Sunday the 18th of April 2020, the first load of Zespri kiwifruits from New-Zealand have arrived in Zeebrugge. This marks the beginning of the season slightly earlier than previous years. With the brand-new packing station in Zeebrugge being nearly finished, the port is ready to handle, pack and transport the kiwifruits of the season.
From Zeebrugge, these kiwifruits will be distributed by Zespri, the world’s largest marketer of kiwifruit, to the European market. Reefer ship ‘Crown Topaz’ had no less than 1.25 million trays of SunGold kiwifruits on board. The Green kiwifruits are expected to arrive on the 11th of May, as planned.
Over the coming 25 weeks, one ship will arrive in Zeebrugge every week. The first three being reefer-ships, followed by 22 container-ships. Over the entirety of Europe, Zespri expects to distribute 20 million trays of SunGold and 35 million trays of Green kiwifruits.
For the port of Zeebrugge this is a remarkable season with a brand-new packing station, since Zespri and Belgian Fruit Warf (BNFW, group Sea-Invest) invested 11 million euros to double the infrastructure to 75.000m2. As the Covid-19-crisis caused some delays in the construction of the new packing station, the kiwifruits are currently processed in the existing facilities. The new packing station is expected to be operational mid-May.
In Zeebrugge the kiwifruits are packed and distributed to the retailers in Mid- and Northern Europe. BNFW oversees the unloading, the storage, the packaging and the loading. A team of Zespri itself verifies the product quality, the cooling temperature and the flows of freight transport. The peak season for kiwifruits runs from May until November. During this period 250 people are at work in the packing station. Furthermore, 80 port workers handle the freight. Zespri and SEA-invest have been working together in Zeebrugge for the last 35 years. Two years ago, they renewed their partnership to 2028.