Kiwifruit harvest is in full swing in Italy this week with Italian SunGold volumes expected to increase by around one-quarter to 5 million trays as more of the recently-grafted vines reach full production.
Zespri Chief Operating Officer Simon Limmer explains Zespri is doubling its European SunGold production over the next five years to catch up with the strong year-round demand for Zespri Kiwifruit from customers around the world.
“We now have around 1,100 producing hectares of our proprietary gold variety in Italy and this is set to treble to 2,900 hectares in the next five years – to put this in context, we have 4,600 producing SunGold hectares in NZ now. Twelve-month supply is a key part of Zespri's strategy and this investment aligns our offshore production with the strong increases in New Zealand SunGold volumes, set to double to around 90 million trays over the next five years,” says Mr Limmer.
Zespri Chief Executive Dan Mathieson says that with over $150 million invested in marketing this season, having a consistent year-round supply of fruit keeps Zespri’s brand top of mind for consumers and is critical to maintaining relationships with customers.
“Kiwifruit is just a tiny but fast-growing part of the global fruit trade. Supplying premium quality fruit all-year round helps us grow kiwifruit consumption around the world and meet the needs of our consumers who want Zespri-quality kiwifruit 12 months of the year,” says Mr Mathieson.
Zespri has partnered with Italian growers to grow Zespri Kiwifruit for the past 17 years to supply Northern Hemisphere markets with Zespri Kiwifruit in the several months a year where NZ kiwifruit is not available. The Zespri Board announced earlier this year the allocation 1,800ha of SunGold licence in Europe, the initial 1,200ha of which will be in Italy. Zespri also procures green kiwifruit from Europe which meets its grade standards.
“Our New Zealand grower-owners realised the importance of supplying their markets 12 months of the year and set up relationships with kiwifruit growers in the Northern Hemisphere to grow Zespri Kiwifruit in Italy, France, Korea and Japan. All our offshore fruit meets stringent quality standards to make it into to a Zespri box, supporting Zespri’s premium brand in the market,” says Mr Limmer.
Zespri invests strongly in supporting its growers around the world with technical advice to maximise their returns from growing for Zespri and is working closely with its Italian partners to grow supply over the coming years. Zespri also shares best practice growing techniques, Psa learnings and R&D with grower forums in its offshore production bases. Around 20 Zespri staff are based in Latina, Italy to support this growing part of the business.
- In Europe, Zespri has around 1,100 producing hectares of SunGold in Italy, 130 producing hectares in France and 14 producing hectares in Portugal and Spain.
- Zespri also has around 70 producing SunGold hectares in Korea and around 90 producing hectares in Japan, as growers convert from the earlier licensed gold variety Hort16A (Zespri Gold) over to SunGold.
- The Zespri System underpins our brand promise to consumers and customers and guarantees the quality of every piece of fruit in every Zespri box. These global standards means Zespri Kiwifruit grown offshore meets exacting standards of quality, food safety and traceability.
- These global standards cover Zespri Kiwifruit from the orchard throughout the supply chain – through distribution, packhouse and coolchain to the customer – as well as meeting each supplying country’s standards for fresh produce.
- Zespri doesn’t own orchards, we partner with local growers to grow SunGold and we also buy green kiwifruit which meets our exacting grade standards.