ZESPRI and the wider New Zealand kiwifruit industry have gone to Parliament today to formally thank the New Zealand Government for its long-term support of the kiwifruit industry; support which enabled it to return over $1 billion in export earnings to New Zealand last year.
The event, held in Wellington at Parliament’s Beehive Banquet Hall, was hosted by Tauranga MP Simon Bridges and attended by Prime Minister John Key, cross party Members of Parliament, senior Government officials, business leaders and kiwifruit industry leaders.
ZESPRI CEO Lain Jager said the New Zealand Government’s support of the industry through the Kiwifruit Regulations, passed in 1999, had given the kiwifruit industry the certainty and the capacity to grow at almost 10 percent a year over the last decade, the fastest annual growth rate of any New Zealand primary industry.
Mr Jager said today’s event doubled as both a thank you and a chance for ZESPRI to outline its future growth plans to triple the kiwifruit industry’s export earnings to $3 billion by 2025.
“Twenty years ago, we were a fragmented industry with seven exporters out-bidding each other onshore and undercutting and price bargaining in the real marketplace.
“There was no collective way to deal with these challenges. It was an individual fight for survival.
“Growers realised their future lay in a new industry model and pulled together to ask the Government to support a Single Point of Entry industry model.
“Today, as a result of the industry model, we are a sophisticated and highly successful export industry. Our industry can focus on delivering top quality fruit to market, meaning growers get premium returns for their efforts,” Mr Jager said.
This year, ZESPRI will export over 100 million trays of kiwifruit to more than 50 countries, the industry will employ tens of thousands of New Zealanders and it will return over $1 billion in export earnings to New Zealand.
ZESPRI will also invest almost $100 million in offshore marketing and will contribute around $10 million toward the $25 million invested by various agencies into innovation within the kiwifruit industry this year.
This innovation investment will be in areas such as new varieties, health and nutrition, sustainability, supply chain efficiencies, productivity improvements, and pest and disease management.
For example, working in conjunction with Plant & Food Research Ltd, ZESPRI’s new varieties programme now has approximately 100,000 cultivars, making it the biggest kiwifruit breeding programme in the world.
“Industry cohesion has given ZESPRI the confidence and certainty to make these significant investments in market-led research and promotions, supply chain management and innovation to ensure the New Zealand kiwifruit industry remains a world leader.
“We thank the then Labour Government for its foresight in 1999 to support the Kiwifruit Industry Regulations, and we thank today’s Government for its continued support for an industry model that the industry wants and overwhelmingly supports.
“It is a model which has generated a real New Zealand export success story,” Mr Jager said.