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Latest News / October 4, 2018

Request for Expressions of Interest Kiwifruit Labour Attraction Strategy


The kiwifruit industry is a $2billion industry exporting almost all of our fruit to lucrative export markets under the Zespri brand.  New Zealand kiwifruit grown under the Zespri brand has a reputation for consistently high-quality fruit backed by a strong customer assurance programme.  Harvesting and shipping fruit at its optimum quality is key in supporting the brand promise.  The kiwifruit industry has a strong requirement for seasonal labour particularly in the harvest season when fruit must be picked and packed over a relatively short timeframe.  It is estimated that over 15,000 FTE’s are required each year to undertake seasonal work.

During the 2018 harvest season, the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty experienced a critical shortage of labour with 1200 vacancies recorded across orchard and packhouse operations at its peak.   A regional labour shortage was declared by the Ministry for Social Development which enabled visitors travelling in New Zealand on visitor visas to work temporarily in the industry.   Publicity generated from the shortage declaration resulted in ~600 new employees to the industry.  They were attracted from a range of sources including backpackers who were already in the country but were working in other regions, Work & Income clients who had previously not been attracted to roles, and New Zealanders who were not otherwise in work (including retirees).

A report on seasonal labour was published in July 2018 and quantifies the extent of seasonal labour that will be required to support industry growth over the next 10 years[1].  The industry has responded by developing a number of working groups to address areas identified in the labour report.  One of these is the Labour Utilisation Working Group which focusses on ensuring that the labour that is employed into the region is being utilised effectively and efficiently.

The Labour Utilisation Working Group has determined that one of its key objectives in advance of the 2019 season is to develop a strategy to attract workers to the industry.  The key focus of the strategy is on short term seasonal roles but should also recognise that there are opportunities for fulltime seasonal work and permanent skilled work within the industry.  The key focus of the labour attraction strategy is the 2019 harvest which will run from mid-March to the end of June.

Request for Expressions of Interest

Expressions of interest are sought from independent providers to develop a worker attraction strategy and to provide a plan for implementation.

Companies interested in completing this work within the required timeframes (extensions will not be provided) are requested to provide an Expression of Interest including the following information by 12 October 2018:

  • Project approach
  • Key personnel
  • Relevant experience
  • Cost estimate and cost basis (fixed or hourly rate)
  • Confirmation that the timeframes are understood and can be met

The expression of interest should not exceed 2 pages.

Expressions of interest should be submitted by email to:

Nikki Johnson

NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc



Expressions of interest should be developed to meet the following timeframes:

  • Successful provider advised by 19 October 2018
  • Attraction Strategy completed by 16 November 2018
  • Implementation of Strategy initiated by 1 December 2018
  • Completion of strategy by 31 January 2019


Further Information

It is anticipated that the strategy will focus on the following key labour sources:

  1. Backpackers (Working Holiday Visas)
  2. NZ retirees
  3. NZ unemployed
  4. NZ employed in other industry
  5. NZ Students


The key roles that the industry in the BOP needs to fill are:

  • Packhouse staff (approx. 8,000 FTE roles)
  • Orchard staff (approx. 3,500 FTE roles)


These roles are generally low skilled roles with on-job training provided. However, it would not exclude people with machinery skills such as forklift operators and truck drivers.


The current seasonal labour force is made up of:

  • New Zealanders (56%)
  • RSE workers (17%) = excluded from this project
  • Working Holiday / Backpackers (22%)