[3 August/The Country]

A report by New Zealand Kiwifruit Gowers Inc says a critical shortage of seasonal workers could limit the kiwifruit industry’s growth over the next ten years. The report showed the industry would require 7,000 seasonal workers if it was to double in size as predicted. At the start of the 2018 season, the industry was short of 1,200 workers with 70 percent of the crop left to harvest. The Government declared a labour shortage and loosened up visa conditions for those willing to work. NZKGI Chief Executive, Nikki Johnson, said the situation would escalate significantly if no action was taken. The industry was working to increase interest in the work. Seeka Chief Executive, Michael Franks, said it was short of staff and could not run all the machines it wanted to. Zespri Communications Manager, Oliver Broad, said the expected growth rate of the industry required more labour at all levels across the industry.