May 24, 2016 / 9:16 PM / a year ago

New Zealand kiwi fruit exporter breaks records

WELLINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - The world's largest kiwi fruit exporter, New Zealand's Zespri International Ltd, reported record sales volumes for its Green and SunGold kiwifruit for the season that ended March 31.

"Zespri sold 131.6 million trays in the 2015-16 season, up 21 percent on the previous season," said Zespri Chairman Peter McBride.

The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit increased 22 percent on the previous year to NZ$1.143 billion ($769.58 million), with average return per hectare reaching a record NZ$60,758.

According to McBride, total sales revenue for the season was NZ$1.9 billion, up 21 percent from the previous season.

Kiwifruit, which used to be known as Chinese gooseberries as they were originally from that country, were brought to New Zealand in the early 1900s and renamed after the nation's round flightless bird. ($1 = 1.4852 New Zealand dollars) (Reporting by Rebecca Howard; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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