Asia demand strong, kiwifruit harvest delayed for Zespri

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Asia demand strong, kiwifruit harvest delayed for Zespri

New Zealand kiwifruit company Zespri expects similar export volumes to last year  of 100 million trays, but weather conditions have led to a slow start for shipments.

A Zespri spokesperson told Japan continues to be the company's strongest market and the company's presence in China is growing.

"The season has got off to a slightly slower start due to weather conditions, with rainfall delaying, or interrupting, picking operations. The first shipment of kiwifruit for the 2011 season left New Zealand in mid April, bound for Japan," the spokesperson said.

"To date the (Japanese) season is underway as planned, with wholesale customers feeling positive about the season.  So far, around 10 ships have departed to Japan.

"China continues to grow strongly, with it now being Zespri’s third largest market.  Continued development, increasing brand awareness and loyalty and developing stronger infrastructure is the short term focus for Zespri in China. Early season reports across other Asian markets is demand is strong."

The spokesperson said sales had not yet begun in North America while some European markets would continue to be 'soft', especially with ongoing economic fragility in Southern Europe.

"First fruit has arrived in (Europe's) market a bit later than usual due to seasonal conditions. Good Gold and Green volumes will arrive in market, with an increase in Gold numbers to Europe over last year, which is good news for customers.

"Total Italian volumes were well down on the previous year and this should mean an earlier finish to their season in both wholesale and retail channels. The market has remained relatively stable.

"Zespri Green fruit, sourced from Italy and France, has performed well with a smooth transition being achieved with the arrival of New Zealand product. Quality levels have been very good with steady volumes, similar to last season."

On other fronts, Zespri has recently contained around 0.1 per cent of its export crop after a Bay of Plenty-based foreign picker was diagnosed with typhoid disease.

The company is currently involved in a court case with another New Zealand horticultural company Turners & Growers, which is pushing for its deregulation. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) recently called for the removal of Zespri's monopoly powers; a claim that Zespri has refuted on the grounds of its strong export performance, among other reasons.

"Over the past decade the kiwifruit industry has grown at almost 10 percent a year, the fastest annual growth rate of any New Zealand primary industry.  Last year it returned over $1 billion in export earnings to New Zealand," the spokesperson said.

"This impressive level of growth has been possible as a result of the single point of entry industry structure.  The structure has provided the certainty and capacity for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry to focus on delivering top quality fruit to market, meaning growers get premium returns for their efforts and customers and consumers receive exceptional quality fruit.

"Like the OECD, Zespri recognises that for the New Zealand economy to grow it must boost exports.  This is why Zespri has a goal of tripling export earnings from $1 billion to $3 billion by 2025.  This is an ambitious, but realistic goal, based on the strength of a unified industry structure."

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