Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.
The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four day event.
In the midst of another bumper season, Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer says Zespri is delighted to share the kiwifruit success story and plenty of Zespri Kiwifruit with the wider New Zealand public with an additional eye-catching sampling site in the Main Pavilion.
“The industry is finishing up harvesting our second-largest crop ever, as we look to build on last season’s $2.26 billion fruit sales revenue,” Limmer said. “The Fieldays gives us a great chance to thank the rural community for their support over the past 20 years and acknowledge the commitment and hard work from so many across the industry.”
The Fieldays theme this year is “leading change”, something that resonates with the Zespri ethos.
Since 1997 when the brand was born, more than $21 billion of premium kiwifruit has been sold under the Zespri brand, with much of this returned to communities around New Zealand as fruit and service payments. Zespri is on track to double sales to NZ$4.5 billion and increase volumes to 260 million trays by 2025, as the industry aims to increase overall kiwifruit consumption around the world and grow the global kiwifruit category.
“In a changing world and global market, we need to be adaptable and relevant and our continued investment in innovation is helping to underpin that, with around $35 million invested annually by the kiwifruit industry,” Limmer added.
The Fieldays comes on the back of Zespri’s recently-announced record sales for the 2016/17 season, with total global sales of $2.26 billion.
There was strong interest in the release of an additional 400 hectares of SunGold licence in New Zealand again earlier this year, while the announcement of a further 1800ha of licence for Europe over the next three years will double Zespri's offshore production of the variety to meet growing demand for 12 month supply.
Mr Limmer says that Zespri is also investing in the structure to support the growth, growing globally to include a Singapore sales and marketing hub, offices in 22 countries and more than 200 employees around the world.
“This is one of the most significant offshore networks of any New Zealand company and allows us to focus on deeply executed sales and marketing in 59 countries this year, right through to the consumer – a real competitive advantage in the market,” says Mr Limmer.
This season has had its challenges, with high rainfall around the main growing regions just before harvest, but Mr Limmer says growers had responded well and continued to deliver to the high standards consumers demand around the world for tasty, premium fruit.