Zespri grew sales by 30 percent in its longstanding number one market of Japan over the past two seasons and plans to keep growing sales of premium Zespri Kiwifruit by 25 percent over the next five years, creating new opportunities to grow value in-market.
Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager is accompanying the trade mission to Japan led by New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and explains Zespri sold a record 24 million trays of kiwifruit in Japan last season.
“Japan sales earned around $500 million last season and accounted for 16 percent of our global sales. This is all the more remarkable as overall fruit sales in Japan declined by almost 10 percent over the past decade, against the backdrop of an economy with an ageing population and changing consumer behavior, with a growing preference for more convenient processed products.
“This strong performance is testament to the longstanding relationships we have with our customers – distributors, wholesalers and retailers – who work very closely with us in-market to deliver consistently great-tasting kiwifruit to Japanese consumers,” says Mr Jager.
Last year saw Zespri’s Japan marketing become more product-centric, making Zespri Kiwifruit more relatable and engaging, and this will continue this season. This new approach won the team in Japan a top design award last year, the Good Design Award, for the new campaign featuring two cartoon kiwifruit brothers talking about how and why kiwifruit is good for you. These TV commercials can be viewed on YouTube
"Our team in-market is working hard to introduce more consumers in Japan to the great taste of Zespri Kiwifruit through sampling programmes and promotions. Once that connection is made, the powerful health benefits of our product ¬- high fibre and vitamin C – provide an ongoing communication platform with consumers,” says Mr Jager.
Mr Jager says Zespri welcomes the New Zealand Government’s decision to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.
“The TPP would eliminate tariffs on kiwifruit exports into all 11 Asia-Pacific nations and the most immediate impact would be in Japan, where kiwifruit growers paid around $25 million in tariffs last season. If this tariff relief was passed straight through to New Zealand growers, it would equate to savings of around $1900 for every hectare of kiwifruit grown in New Zealand.”
Mr Jager explains Zespri has partnered with local Japan kiwifruit growers for the past 14 years to grow Zespri gold varieties to supply the local Japanese market in the few months of the year when New Zealand kiwifruit is not available. Zespri also has supplying orchards in Italy, France and Korea to meet consumer demand in the New Zealand offseason.
“Our partnership with local growers keeps Zespri Kiwifruit on shop shelves in Japan all year round, supporting the relationships with our trade partners and keeping our brand in front of consumers all year round,” says Mr Jager.
Zespri is expanding Japan production under a new commercial model which will see the aggregation of larger land areas, with significant volume growth ahead in response to the exceptional success and demand for SunGold in the Japanese market.