Zespri Kiwifruit vines

2020 season harvest sees 100 tonnes of kiwifruit donated to local communities

Media Release

07 Jul 2020

One hundred tonnes of locally-grown kiwifruit is being distributed by the industry to food rescue organisations around the country this season.

Zespri Chief Executive Dan Mathieson says that despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the completion of this season’s harvest reflected a huge effort across the industry to pick and pack the 2020 season crop in record time and the industry appreciated the support it had received in order to continue to operate.

“This season really has demonstrated the sense of collaboration within the kiwifruit industry and the strong support we’ve received,” says Mr Mathieson.

“Our supply chain has worked together to safely pick, pack and ship this season’s bumper crop and provide jobs to locals who had lost their roles in the hospitality and tourism sectors as a result of the impact of COVID-19.

“Considering the uncertainty presented by the pandemic, the fact all of this season’s crop has already been picked and packed and 32 of our planned 48 charter vessels have already shipped our fruit to market puts us in the best possible position to tackle the challenges we are facing in our markets and is something we can all be proud of.”

With the impact of COVID-19 putting greater strain on many community organisations, Zespri has this season increased the support it offers its existing community partners and started working with several new organisations across the country.

“We can see significant growth opportunities ahead and we can do more to create a sustainable future by helping people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit,” says Mr Mathieson.

“At Zespri, we’re already doing that through our partnerships with the likes of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust, Good Neighbour, Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR), and the scholarships and education programmes we offer, but we know that as our industry grows, so too must the contribution we make.

“This season, in recognition of the impact of COVID-19, we’re pleased to expand our support to partner with KidsCan, where we’ve provided financial support and donated one tonne of kiwifruit.”

KidsCan Chief Executive Julie Chapman says the partnership has come at a crucial time for KidsCan.

“We’re delighted to have had Zespri formalise their support at a time when we're facing unprecedented demand for KidsCan's services due to COVID-19.

"We're now feeding 44,000 children a day, which is up 30 percent on last term, as families struggle to make ends meet. We're sending out thousands of warm raincoats and solid pairs of shoes to keep children warm and dry in what will be the toughest winter yet for many.

"Zespri's donation of nutritious kiwifruit has been warmly welcomed by our partner schools and their communities who found lockdown particularly tough."

Mr Mathieson says that in addition to its work with KidsCan, Zespri had formed strong relationships with a number of regional organisations.

“These organisations do amazing things including promoting sustainable food use and making sure that those most in need are supported and have access to support and quality fresh and healthy food.”

Zespri has also supported a range of offshore organisations and causes and donated kiwifruit so that hospital workers, senior citizens, young children and those in need around the world can access kiwifruit and its Vitamin C.

Mr Mathieson says he was also looking forward to the commencement of the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure, the organisation’s first nationwide community investment programme. It encourages healthy lifestyles amongst young children and was being undertaken in partnership with Asics ambassadors Amerliaranne Ekenasio, Ardie Savea, Kane Williamson, and Samantha Charlton.

“We need to continually invest in the skills, leadership, and the wellbeing of our people and land for our industry and our communities to thrive in the long term and this programme is a great way to connect with our next generation and encourage healthy lifestyles,” says Mr Mathieson.