Court Hearing a Waste of Grower Money

Media Release - 16 July 2010

The world’s most successful horticulture marketing company, ZESPRI Group Ltd, says that the legal case it will be defending on behalf of its growers next week is a wasteful use of grower money.

The case is part of a campaign by Turners & Growers (T&G), a 1 percent player in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and majority owned by corporate raider Guinness Peat Group (GPG), to break up the kiwifruit industry, New Zealand’s fastest-growing major primary producer.

ZESPRI’s Director Corporate and Grower Services, Carol Ward, said ZESPRI had made efforts to ensure the litigation, which was filed a year ago and concerns points of law dating back to government decisions more than a decade ago, did not distract from its focus on customers and grower returns.

She said that, since the launch of the litigation, average grower returns had increased by 7 percent, returns for ZESPRI® GOLD Kiwifruit had increased by 23 percent, the company and government had partnered to commit funding to ZESPRI’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding programme with Plant & Food Research, and that three new varieties of kiwifruit had been commercialised.

“In addition, a survey by Colmar Brunton said that more than 90 percent of growers support ZESPRI and the industry’s marketing arrangements, and there has been equally strong support for the growers’ view from across parliament, including from Prime Minister John Key, Agriculture Minister David Carter, Trade Minister Tim Groser and Opposition Leader Phil Goff,” she said.

Ms Ward said that, instead of concentrating on wasteful and pointless litigation, it would be better for T&G/GPG to work constructively with ZESPRI to advance in its commercial aspirations.

She said that the New Zealand Kiwifruit Export Regulations provide for anyone to export kiwifruit from New Zealand, under collaborative marketing procedures, as long as they can show their proposal is in the best interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers.

“Collaborative marketing programmes allow companies to export kiwifruit from New Zealand – all in a way which benefits them and the wider industry. More than 15 companies, including T&G, are already exporting from New Zealand under collaborative marketing programmes and we expect these programmes will continue to grow in the years ahead.

“If it has serious commercial propositions that might benefit the industry, we would welcome such a programme by T&G,” Ms Ward said.

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