Zespri optimistic about Psa, future in China
Chairman Peter McBride, speaking at the company's 14th annual meeting, said the path against the devastating disease remained undetermined but that "tremendous progress" had been made since its initial appearance in New Zealand in 2010.
"We have come a long way, learnt a lot and taken some really positive steps to returning the industry to growth again. This spring will be a critical time in understanding how well we are doing, which is why we say there is cautious optimism in the industry rather than stating categorically that we are on the path to recovery," McBride said.
The chairman praised strong 2012-13 results, reporting the highest green returns since 2013, record gold returns and the highest organic returns since 2008.
"Fruit markets are strong and we are having a vintage-taste season following the hot dry summer, which means demand is strong across our markets," he said.
The positive statements came shortly after a Shanghai court upheld a ruling against a Zespri subsidiary in China for under declaration of customs duties. The ruling imposed a NZ$960,000 (US$760,000) fine against the subsidiary and a five-year jail term for one of its employees.
Despite the ruling, McBride said there was no expected impact on the company's future in China - the market forecast to be the company's largest by 2018.
"We have to work through the historic customs issues in China in a deliberate and considered manner. We cannot fast-track this process. We must be respectful of China’s system and continue to cooperate with the relevant authorities in a humble and open manner until the matter is resolved," he said.
Zespri CEO Lain Jager also commented on the first commercial quantities of SunGold, commercialized after Psa dealt serious blows to the variety Hort16A.
"Our customers’ enthusiasm to grow their Gold sales gives us confidence in this category as we recover from Psa and rebuild our gold volumes to levels higher than before Psa," Jager said.
At the meeting, Bruce Cameron, Jonathan Mason and Peter McBride were elected to the Zespri Board.