NZ: Zespri opposes second T&G bid for new variety

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NZ: Zespri opposes second T&G bid for new variety

New Zealand's kiwifruit regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand (KNZ) has rejected a second bid by Turners & Growers to export new kiwifruit varieties under 'collaborative marketing' provisions.

The company's application to export its ENZAGold, ENZARed and Summerkiwi varieties for a five-year term was rejected with opposition as well from kiwifruit company Zespri.

Amidst a court case that has put Zespri's monopoly under the spotlight, T&G managing director Jeff Wesley said the rejection showed how flawed the country's kiwifruit exporting system was.

"We have done all we can to work within the monopoly controlled system, but the  decision by KNZ to turn down our second application to export our new varieties proves that the system, which has only ever been marginal at  best, is now completely outdated and does not work," he said.

"The Government’s claim that the collaborative marketing system allows others from New Zealand to export has been shown to be a charade."

Wesley said the company had pitched the five-year rolling term for new varieties to give more certainty to growers, but kiwifruit marketer Zespri allegedly would not engage in anything more than a one-year trial insisting a 'gag clause' that Turners would not criticise the business.

"Terms no business could accept as at any moment Zespri  could pull the rug out from under ENZA growers," said Wesley.

"We will have the first New Zealand grown red kiwifruit for export, while Zespri’s red cultivar is still only being trialled on orchards here. We want to get ENZA’s NZ-grown premium kiwifruit varieties into export markets as soon as possible to start earning premiums for Kiwi growers and a much needed boost for exports."

In response, Zespri CEO Jager said the company remained committed to working with Turners & Growers on the multi-year collaborative marketing application.

"The application could not be supported by Zespri because it amounted to open slather and T&G did not show it was in the best interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers, as the law requires," Jager said.

"Should T&G be interested in coming back with a more serious proposal that it can show is in the interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers, we are confident we will be able to advise the regulator that we support it.

"Collaborative marketing is working.  Already Zespri works with 13 companies, including T&G, which are exporting kiwifruit beyond Australia."

A Zespri spokesperson told it was important to note the final decision was not made by the company but by KNZ.

Former T&G chairman Tony Gibbs has previously questioned the independence of the KNZ board and its connections with Zespri.

Related stories: Former T&G chairman 'quietly confident' for Zespri court case

Zespri must go, says OECD

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