This week marks a milestone with the kiwifruit industry coming together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Zespri brand, proudly owned by New Zealand kiwifruit growers.
Zespri chief executive Lain Jager says the celebrations come at a great time, with the industry aiming to more than double sales to $4.5 billion a year by 2025.
“Kiwifruit is an important economic contributor to communities in regional New Zealand, with more than $1.14 billion returned to NZ communities last year alone. More than $21 billion of premium kiwifruit has been sold in a Zespri box since 1997; our brand is underpinned by the great work done over many years right across the industry from orchards to packhouses and in the markets,” says Mr Jager.
The kiwifruit industry made a choice back in 1997 to create a brand which would differentiate NZ fruit on the world stage.
“As an industry, we had a choice – to become a low-cost perishable commodity, like most other fruits, or to market a superior branded product. But a brand on its own is just a picture and letters. The success of the Zespri brand is built on the relentless quality systems which ensure the fruit is delicious and top quality, and the passion and dedication of tens of thousands of people across New Zealand and around the world over decades.
“Now in 2017, Zespri is the undisputed category leader in kiwifruit. However, kiwifruit is still an underdeveloped category globally and we have the goal of increasing overall kiwifruit consumption around the world from 0.22 percent of globally traded fruit,” says Mr Jager.
The kiwifruit industry also invests around $35 million in research and development each year, with more than half of that going into the joint new varieties breeding programme with Plant & Food Research. Zespri’s proprietary gold variety SunGold and original variety Hort16A came from this Te Puke-based programme – together they have earned around $7 billion in sales and SunGold is on track for sales of nearly $1 billion in the 2016/17 season.
The industry is celebrating in Mt Maunganui on Friday 10 March, with the Momentum conference focused on kiwifruit’s future with external speakers on trade, economics and retail trends presenting alongside senior Zespri executives, ending with a celebratory gala dinner and the presentation of the Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal. Teams from postharvest, growers and Zespri will also face off in the Industry Challenge, a fun series of Top Town-style events held at Paengaroa School the day before.
Today’s inaugural Women in Kiwifruit event was sold-out, bringing together women from across the industry to network and hear from high-profile women in kiwifruit and other industries.