On October 28th 2015, Zespri launched their inaugural Kiwifruit Innovation Symposium to a sold-out audience of 200 attendees. From the innovative set up and exciting presentations to the interactive workshops the scene was set to excite and engage the audience.
With more than $15million invested annually in kiwifruit innovation Zespri initiated this event to showcase current work, share findings and to take current engagement and communicate with the wider industry to the next level.
Zespri General Manager Marketing & Innovation Carol Ward stated that “Innovation has given our growers the world’s leading kiwifruit varieties and the tools to grow the best kiwifruit in the world, as well as a world-class supply chain. We want to show the industry how we’re building on this for the future and supporting the strong growth ahead,”
As world leaders Zespri understands and appreciates the value of innovation from within.
“We need to innovate faster than the competition to stay relevant to our consumers and drive back value to our industry.” Says Lain Jager, Zespri CEO.
“This innovation conference is for the industry and with the industry.” Said Ms Ward.
Keynote speaker, Steve Saunders of GroPlus, spoke about new and exciting technologies that can be utilised on orchard. He was looking to the future and sharing some great innovations that GroPlus are currently involved with and encouraged everyone to engage with the younger generations to take the industry innovations into the future.
Representatives attended from research partners such as Plant & Food research, The Riddet Institute, KVH and many more to ensure open communication and a free exchange of ideas. There were also representatives there from the grower community, wider industry and regulatory bodies.
The Ministry for Primary Industries stole the show with a demonstration from one of their bio-security dog handlers, Sarah Carley and her dogs Ayla and Bounty during Dr Elaine Gould’s morning presentation on bio-security.
All of the morning presentations can be viewed here.
The workshops in the afternoon proved incredibly popular and some great results were achieved for each. Below is a summary of each of the workshops:
New Kiwifruit Cultivars-Shaping the Industry
Led by Zespri Innovation Leader, Bryan Parkes
Guest Speakers: Lain Jager (Zespri CEO), Carol Ward (Zespri General Manager Marketing & Innovation), Robbie Mayston (Bruntwood Farm), Stuart Weston (Apata)
Control of the world’s best kiwifruit cultivars is critical to the success of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry; with such cultivars we can grow the size of the kiwifruit category and ensure Zespri maintains leadership of the kiwifruit category. This talk provided an update on the progress that Plant and Food Research and Zespri making towards the delivery of new kiwifruit cultivars
Health- do consumers really care?
Led by Zespri Innovation Leader Dr Juliet Ansell
Guest speakers: Prof. Margreet Vissers (University of Otago), Carlo Magni (Forward), Melanie Auld (Zespri Global marketing Manager)
Zespri knows that consumers do care about health and the ‘Food: Health relationship’ is not new and has been around for thousands of years dating back to Hippocrates and the Han Dynasty.
Food culture varies country to country and consumers have different involvement with health and the world around them. We need to understand our consumers so that we can provide the information they seek and communicate it to them.
The workshop included an overview of global health issues and the importance of nutrition in many chronic but preventable ‘lifestyle’ diseases. We worked though the segmentation tools that Zespri uses to evaluate consumers around the world to find out what type of consumer we are. We talked about consumer resonance testing of proposed health research to ensure that money spent is contributing to increasing orchard gate returns.
Taste- Where to next?
Led by Zespri Innovation Leader Dr Greg Clark
Guest Speakers: Tony Hoksbergen, Jeff Fyfe (Yealands Wine Estate) .
Taste is one of the key drivers for consumer purchase of Zespri kiwifruit, yet how much do we truly understand about the underlying flavour composition that is the unique kiwifruit flavour that consumer’s desire beyond signals of ripeness. Other horticultural industries particularly the grape and wine industry have been focussed on fruit flavour attributes for thousands of years. In the Taste: Where to Next workshop Yealand’s Wines General Manager of Viticulture Tony Hoksbergen and Senior Winemaker and Winery Manager Jeff Fyfe gave an overview of the processes and techniques they employ to develop grape flavour quality prior to harvest. Looking beyond brix Jeff described the importance of flavour attributes in the grape and the taste harvest parameters they look for prior to harvest. Tony explained some of the vineyard management practices that were employed that influenced flavour development and particularly those that may be relevant to the development of flavour in kiwifruit. The workshop was closed with a wine tasting and explanation of vineyard locality influences on flavour development within the wines being sampled.
Optimising Knowledge Transfer
Led by Zespri Innovation Leader, Matt Adkins
Guest speakers: Nigel banks (Postharvest Co.) Janine Broekhuizen (Dairy NZ), John Cook (Endeavour Kiwi Ltd)
As the pace of global competition quickens, knowledge transfer has become one of the most critical activities in assisting organizations to innovate and thus, remain competitive. Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry invest $20 million dollars a year in acquiring knowledge. However, this is of limited value if it is not shared throughout the industry effectively. This workshop was a first step in developing a knowledge exchange framework that will optimise innovation within the kiwifruit industry. In this workshop participants heard from several speakers about increasing the pace of change and innovating faster. The audience learnt how different innovations and their adoption require different approaches. There was opportunity to feedback on what the Industry likes/dislikes about our current communications tools. Finally the group were led through understanding motivation and how this can help with knowledge transfer and how to action all this through technological tools and their design.
Biosecurity – The Great Unknown
Led by Zespri Innovation Leader, Dr Elaine Gould
Guest speakers: Andrew Harrison (KVH), Matt Dyck (KVH), Christine Reed (PMI), Brad Siebert (Avocadoes NZ)
Andrew Harrison (KVH) discussed how KVH are preparing for the next big incursion, whilst trying to present it. He discussed how KVH are linking in with many different partners, including MPI and the Port of Tauranga to find ways to reduce the risk of entry of biosecurity threats.
Christine Reed (MPI) discussed how MPI uses a multitude of networks to determine what Emerging Risks are out there, both in NZ and overseas, and discussed how the risks are assessed. Not all risks are a major threat, for instance if they will not be able to establish in NZ due to climate, or the goods that harbour the biosecurity threat are not imported into NZ.
Matt Dyck (KVH) discussed the Emerging Risks to the kiwifruit industry and described how they narrowed down the 93 known ones to a top 8, which we will fund research into through the Biosecurity Steering Group, e.g. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Ceratocystis fimbriata.
Brad Siebert (Avocadoes NZ) discussed how biosecurity measures used on farmers could be translated to the kiwifruit industry, for example using a check list of potential pathways for each risk. He also highlighted the need to phone MPI if you spot something unusual.
A question was asked at the start and end of each session: how confident are you that we are doing enough in the kiwifruit industry in biosecurity? It was a scaled question, with participants asked to line up from no confidence to very confident. It was good to see after the end of the first session that people who were not so confident gained more confidence after the presentations. One point mentioned in both sessions though, was that the room wasn’t full and this is possibly an indication of apathy (no biosecurity threat at the moment) or lack of education / understanding in the area.
Productivity- How much is too much?
Led by Zespri Innovation Leader Dr David Armour
Guest Speakers: Adam Friend (PFR), Annette Richardson (PFR).
The Productivity workshops run in the afternoon of the symposium were an opportunity for attendees to apply new perspectives from the mornings’ talk and have a closer look, with fresh thoughts, at our current growing systems. The format of the workshop provided participants with a few key considerations around making more fruit (Annette) and orchard designs for enhanced productivity (Adam), before devoting most of the session to accessing the extensive knowledge on kiwifruit growing in the room – that of the participants. Many exciting discussions ensued as groups set about (re)designing of growing systems by the participants themselves, by exploring how the industry can continue to improve yields by diverting plant resources to where it counts – the fruit.